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Long March on the capital heating up

Large groups of lawyers and party workers are slowly trying to make their way to the capital Islamabad from all over Pakistan. The marchers' plan is to congregate on Constitution Avenue, the main artery of the capital, and stage a sit in until the deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudry is restored. Sunday in Lahore, the marches briefly turned violent.

There was another protest rally in the capital Saturday. Here is some of what I saw.

The government is throwing everything it can muster at the marchers. Political workers and organizers of the march are still being arrested. The state has closed the highways that connect the Pakistani provinces. The movement of political leaders is being controlled and some are under house arrest. Friday private TV news channels were forced off the air.

Some of the activists say that the march is already a success. The more the government tightens its grip, the more unpopular it will become, they say. It's true, the threat of a march on to Islamabad has already plunged the government into crisis. Friday two members of the ruling party resigned from cabinet positions.

But the government is hoping that by keeping the numbers on the streets to a minimum it might be able to survive this storm.

The ambassadors from the U.S. and other western diplomats and the Pakistan army chief shuttled between the government and the opposition apparently trying to work out a deal that would avoid a potentially bloody confrontation in Islamabad.

They seemed to have failed Friday, but there are still two more days till the march reaches the capital.