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Pakistan inches toward political uncertainty


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Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.—AFP (File Photo)

KARACHI: Pakistan appeared to be treading toward an uncertain political terrain on Tuesday as arrest orders were issued for a sitting prime minister in a corruption case and a populist cleric called for the government’s resignation leading tens of thousands of protesters into the federal capital.

During the early hours of Tuesday, the Pakistani-Canadian chief of the Tehrik-i-Minhajul Quran (TMQ), Dr Tahirul Qadri, followed by a large motorcade and thousands of supporters on foot, called for the “corrupt” and “inefficient” sitting government to step down. He threatened that the people would otherwise “take matters into their own hands”.

“This president and prime minister…they are now ex-presidents and prime ministers. Their time is over. Dissolve the national and provincial assemblies by the morning. I am giving you until 11 am to step down or else the people will start making their own decisions,” said Qadri, who many believe to be backed by the country’s military establishment. “These millions of supporters have spoken. They have rejected your so-called mandate. You are no longer their representatives.”

The protesters — according to some estimates numbering between 25,000 to 50,000 — relocated towards D-chowk in front of the Parliament, where Qadri spoke to them again from behind a bullet-proof shield at around 1 pm, unveiling his charter of demands, and praising the country’s military and the judiciary. The cleric threatened to remain camped in front of the parliament along with his supporters until his demands were met.

Profile: Tahirul Qadri

“(The government) has wasted and brought a bad end to our armed forces, those armed forces who are highly sincere, highly competent and highly capable and highly professional,” News agency Reuters quoted Qadri, who alternated between Urdu and English in his speech. “Even they can’t do anything because the political government isn’t able to deliver anything from this land. Judgments are being passed by our great, independent judiciary but the government is not ready to implement them.”

But as Qadri praised the two state institutions, the Supreme Court of Pakistan announced orders for the arrest of 16 individuals, including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, in the rental power projects case.

Prime Minister Ashraf was accused of receiving kickbacks and commissions in the RPPs case during his previous stint as federal minister for water and power.

“The chief justice ordered that all concerned, regardless of their rank, who have been booked in the case be arrested and if someone leaves the country, then chairman of National Accountability Bureau will be held responsible along with his investigating team,” said Aamir Abbas, lawyer for the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). “The sixteen include Raja Ashraf.”

Profile: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf

Nearly an hour later, Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to the embattled prime minister, accused the military and the Supreme Court of conspiring together to topple the government.

The uncertainty also took its toll on the country’s equity markets, with the benchmark Karachi Stock Exchange 100 index plummeting 3.16 per cent during the days trading, closing 525 points lower at 16,107.89.

The ruling coalition government battles its latest challenges just a day after Prime Minister Ashraf invoked Article 234 of the Constitution, dissolving the provincial government and imposing governor’s rule in the restive Balochistan province. The government was forced to give in to hundreds of protesting ethnic Shia Hazaras who had been refusing to bury the victims of bombings in Quetta, the provincial capital, to protect government inaction over attacks targeting the community.

Comments (57) Closed

iqbal Jan 15, 2013 03:03pm
I hope any pray Zardari leaves and some better honest person leads Pakistan to prosperity. The money Zardari has stolen should be put back in Pakistan.
Amit Jan 15, 2013 02:34pm
I am an Indian living abroad. I have seen so many openly corrupt politiicians in my country of birth and yet no one has courage to do anything about it. On the other hand inspite of all the probelms that Pakistnan is facing, somenone has courage to stand up and tell the truth. I hope judiciary system in my country learns something from the Suprme court of Pakistan. For a while I had some hope in Anna Hazare, but inspite of all the backing he had from common people, our corrupt polititcians managed to maginalized his efforts.
tariq malik Jan 15, 2013 03:11pm
plz stop military from leaping forward... political problems should seek political solutions, all parties to sit and help defuse the tensions. tensions are neither good for people nor for state.
Rida Jan 15, 2013 03:31pm
Pakistan appears to be the only country in the world whose people can be fooled again and again! It is the responsibility of media to clearly convey to the masses that their right to vote-out the government is being hijacked by the unelected powerful.
nasir Jan 15, 2013 02:32pm
did we ever have any certainty?
Tausif Jan 15, 2013 03:01pm
The Pakistan Army is again at its best (WORST!) ....I don't know why would a country's defenders make their homeland so vulnerable after every few years?? The government should complete its terms and hold elections, free and least the next elections would be better than what Musharraf had held!!!!
Ankahi Baatein Jan 15, 2013 02:54pm
These days will go down in history like the French Revolution! And we were always facing political, economical and law and order uncertainty! The Honeymoon of our greedy leaders is finally over!!!!
murali Jan 15, 2013 02:51pm
the new revolutionary guy speaks army words. he is none other than army agent
Muhammad Waqas Jan 15, 2013 02:43pm
bye bye corrupt govt. And Mr.zardari if u have any moral values plz resign
Kamal Khan Jan 15, 2013 02:36pm
Its about time...for RULE OF LAW. No one ishould be above the LAW.
Abbas Khan Jan 15, 2013 02:21pm
We are looking at things from nose distance so far. The timings of condemn-able Hazara killing, the decision to enforce governor raj, the arrival of Tahir Qadri out of no where, the Koofic (reference Kofa) role of MQM leadership and the SC's ruling against the notorious power rental gang aka Prime Minister - its too much of a coincidence. What is cooking - I, as a layman Pakistani, do not know. But - I only pray for the safety of Pakistan and the nation excluding the Army Chiefs, the corrupt Ministers, the cold-meat opposition and the man without neck in London.
Hindustani Jan 15, 2013 01:26pm
Stop another dictatorship
Cyrus Howell Jan 15, 2013 02:00pm
"Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to the embattled prime minister, accused the military and the Supreme Court of conspiring together to topple the government." . Someone has to do it.
AASHIK Jan 15, 2013 01:44pm
pak is a burden to the world
Ihtesham Kayani Jan 15, 2013 01:56pm
Its a land mark decision, no one is above the law and SC is just prooving that. Time is up for looters in this country.
hummmmmm Jan 15, 2013 01:53pm
Go Pakistan Go.........
raika45 Jan 15, 2013 01:56pm
Difficult days are here for you Pakistan . First the LOC problem then comes the "redeemer" of Pakistan from the corrupt and landed gentry running your country with his so called millions and the icing on the cake, your Prime Minister is hauled up by the court.Not forgetting the massacre of the Hazaras resulting in mass demonstrations practically country wide.Not a good beginning for the new year.Yet your government as usual gives out it's placating statements, being totally at a loss and praying that this storm too shall pass and complete it's 5 year term.Too dangerous for it to rock the boat now.
Arif Khan Jan 15, 2013 02:07pm
Its not inching, its leaping
ruby Jan 15, 2013 01:41pm
[quote]The government was forced to give in to hundreds of protesting ethnic Shia Hazaras who had been refusing to bury the victims of bombings in Quetta, the provincial capital, to protect government inaction over attacks targeting the community. [/quote] It is supposed to be protest, not protect.
Arif Jan 15, 2013 04:10pm
Good to see this corrupt man out.
observer Jan 15, 2013 04:25pm
It is unfortunate that Pakistan is in this situation. It seems nobody can be trusted to be sincere and honest to their roles and to the country. Judiciary has the excuse of acting in the interest of law, military has reason of being defenders of the country engaged in a domestic terrorism problem, Parliament has the pretext of being the legislative body, government claims to be victimized by various circles, and so on. In this context, who to listen to?
Zahid Jan 16, 2013 10:40am
'Very Soon'? Sorry to be so honest with you... but we already are the worst country on this earth, in the international corruption list, Pakistan is 6th from bottom out of all the countries in the world
Bilal Jan 15, 2013 04:31pm
What's the consensus on this Qadri character? Is he just a puppet for the Supreme Court and military or is he serious about political change?
Waseem Jan 15, 2013 04:33pm
Chaos, Uncertainty is the norm in Pakistan.
malik Jan 15, 2013 04:40pm
When will SC order arrest of Mr.10%?
AHMAD Jan 15, 2013 04:57pm
This guy, Qadri is making a case for military take over. Let the democracy ( although the democracy is broken and yet better than military rule. ) take its course.
Eyes Wide Shut Jan 15, 2013 04:59pm
Don't know if it's happening for the good or bad.. but it's happening
Shyam Jan 15, 2013 05:03pm
Banana Republic.
Qaiser Hussain Khan Bakhtiari Jan 15, 2013 05:26pm
Political Uncertainty is a mild word to you. I would say utter chaos is something that is a word that reflects the situation better. Though not a fan of the Zardari government, I find it quite interesting that all of a sudden the Military back politician/cleric descended upon Islamabad and at the same time the Pakistani Court has acted in this way. Seems all pretty well coordinated to me.
Aziz Jan 15, 2013 05:30pm
I am all for justice regardless of the position the person holds. My question is, if the PM does not have immunity, why does the president enjoy immunity?
mansoor Jan 15, 2013 05:35pm
Why pick and choose policy? If Baluchistan can be imposed Governor rule, KPK needs this as well , since there were more killings individually, collectively also massacres. Can we say that governemnt of Coalation only move when they think situation benefitting, them? Estabilshment is always, there evern working when there are no political mafia, elected after every five years or in some cases more then ten years. When these political elites are sharing there booty, estabishment still work for them, watching and some times also benefitting. According to my opinion, establishment whether military or civil is right if they claim, that they are doing ups and down in politics of Pakistan due to these corrupt politicians, which is known to every one and even children, who while playing call each other Raja R.... though, they never have claimed it and will not, then why intersted persons who speaks against estabilshment? I have seen some famous lawyers and human rights activists in London's Russel square, who according to them went for a meeting with stakeholders on human rights in Pakistan? It means every one in Pakistan seems to have some links and intersts with the establishment of some where. In need of time they all i am sure would be ready to fly and if there names are on ECL, they might have planned to travel by sea, to friendly states.
Ihtesham Kayani Jan 15, 2013 05:46pm
Its a land mark decision, no one is above the law and SC is just prooving that. Time is up for looters & plunderers in this country. You may differ to what I say but I have the right to be published on this forum.
Vimal Jan 15, 2013 05:47pm
Dirty politics played in Pakistan,All Political parties including supreme court and the army are playing politics.
Talkingpoint Jan 15, 2013 05:51pm
One which is not improving can only be tumbling . Leaping is associated with progress.
Sameer Jan 16, 2013 03:23pm
Considering the increasing population in India, i would suggest Indians as the burden on the natural resources of the world.
Zaheer Jan 15, 2013 05:58pm
What a creative but inept political class? if only they could match each crisis with an opportunity-Pakistan will be heaven on earth as opposed to the hell they have made it into.
S Raghavan Jan 15, 2013 06:11pm
Political turmoil in Pakistan due to vacuum in effective leadership
Shahrukh Khan Jan 15, 2013 06:18pm
What took you guys so looooooooooooooooooooooooong?
dr aisha Jan 15, 2013 06:20pm
Slow and steady wins the race as the tortoise beat the hare.
Roger Rao Jan 16, 2013 07:04pm
Pakistan has been unkind to itself, and it has not given itself sufficient time for democracy to settle in the country. Each time a democratic government is elected, extremists of various kinds (including the 'military' variety) feels the urge to get back into the seat of power. Democracy allows for 'outing' the corrupt in the society. It allows for people of different beliefs and views to live together. It teaches tolerance, regardless of the views held by those in the minority. But Pakistan needs to be patient in being able to attain it's democratic ideals. Roger
Rajan Jan 15, 2013 06:34pm
If you can't find a good clean PM, please take the Mr. clean Manmohan Singh from India.
Rashid Jan 15, 2013 07:28pm
A country which could not run by a democratic Govt full term- shame on us.
Madan Jan 15, 2013 07:41pm
What a strange stroke of fate for pakistani people! Always in turmoil.
atif Jan 15, 2013 07:52pm
The protesters
Aqil Siddiqi Jan 15, 2013 08:07pm
This is Pakistan, what more do you expect. Every one is corrupt. Very soon, we will be the worst country to live on this planet earth.
Bangash Jan 15, 2013 08:20pm
Please don't learn anything from Pakistani politics or institutions. What you are witnessing is just a plot to sow chaos and create conditions for military stooges to be brought to power. The skirmishes you see along LoC is part of this plot.
Samina Sattar Jan 15, 2013 08:41pm
get the corrupt ones out.before they run us into the ground,
Fasahat Jan 16, 2013 12:30pm
No body is above the la\w , government should comply the court orders. Fasahat
zafar Jan 16, 2013 11:32am
Our nation is living in these situation for the last 65 years, and we will be living in future as well.
Ahmer Jan 15, 2013 09:38pm
Dr Qadri is the last hope of the poor people of Pakistan. Support him and do not let his moment pass without meaningful reforms.
zafar Jan 16, 2013 11:34am
umesh bhagwat Jan 15, 2013 10:40pm
cheers! Pakistan like India is a society in transition! These things are bound to happen as we move towards a bright future.
Faisal Jan 15, 2013 10:53pm
Its lmost full term and its time for a change
Kausik Jan 16, 2013 12:03am
This is insanity looks like SC playing in to the hands of armed forces of Pakistan for another military rule using same old excuse of civilian corruption.The judicial branch way over reacting and using unusual non judicial powers which i don't know whether Pakistan's constitution gave them.they can certainly probe in to allegations but ordering arrest i think as international democrat way out of their league and misuse of power..I request Dawn to comment on constitution of pakistan
Bashir Jan 16, 2013 12:35am
My friend, You are already living in failed state and worst country
Zain Jan 16, 2013 02:27am
what if media is corrupt too ?
pathanoo Jan 16, 2013 04:34am
The Title of the article,"Pakistan inches toward political uncertainty" is completely wrong. There is no politics in Pakistan. It is a charade of the corrupt, for the corrupt and by the corrupt.