Updated: January 16, 2013 17:34 IST

Pakistan slips into crisis mode again

Anita Joshua
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A file photo of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
A file photo of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

Pakistan plunged into a political crisis on Tuesday with the Supreme Court ordering the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf within hours of Pakistani-Canadian cleric-politician Tahir-ul Qadri calling for immediate dissolution of Parliament and assemblies. Just as Dr. Qadri was holding forth on his future course of action after the expiry of “his” deadline for the dissolution of the assemblies, the Pakistan Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the Prime Minister in a pending case relating to his days as Power Minister.

The federal government remained outwardly unfazed with Law Minister Farooq Naek maintaining that the Court had not ordered the premier’s arrest but left the decision to the National Accountability Bureau.

However, the confusion that accompanied the Court’s order was immediately reflected in the Karachi Stock Exchange where initial reports suggested that the index fell by more than 500 points during intra-day trading. As developments outpaced each other, all political parties went into their respective conclaves to assess the situation and formulate their response. Mr. Ashraf spoke over the phone with coalition party leaders and Opposition leader, former premier Nawaz Sharif.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s House, there was consensus on upholding the Constitution and the democratic system while dealing firmly with any attempt at subversion. President Asif Ali Zardari, who is in Karachi, convened a meeting of his party leaders there.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan struck a discordant note with a demand for involving all parties in the formation of the interim government.

Conspiracy theories

As news about the arrest order of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf was announced to the thousands gathered outside Parliament, the congregation erupted in celebration; deeming it a victory of their agenda for change. Cleric-politician Tahir-ul Qadri, who had organised the “million man” march, fuelled this sentiment by saying “Mubarak-ho” (congratulations) thrice and adding: “Half speech delivered and half goal achieved. Tomorrow, I will deliver [the] second half and you will achieve remaining goals.’’

His goals are not clear as the cleric has been shifting his goalposts frequently. One steadfast demand has been to ensure that all stakeholders, including the judiciary and the military, are consulted in the process of setting up the caretaker government which will oversee the elections due before May end.

Though there is no clear indication of a connection between Dr. Qadri’s demand for immediate systemic overhaul and the order to arrest Mr. Ashraf in the Rental Power Plants case, immediate linkages were drawn by analysts all too familiar with the machinations of the establishment. More so because Dr. Qadri — whose sudden arrival on Pakistan’s political firmament has been described as a “stalking horse for invisible forces’’ out to derail the democratic process — was all praise for the judiciary and the military in his afternoon speech.

As the conspiracy theories thickened, another school of thought emerged that saw the Court order — which calls for the premier’s arrest within a day but does not necessarily disqualify him yet — as a way to defuse the situation created by Dr. Qadri and his followers picketing Parliament House. Following the afternoon’s developments, the crowd thinned though officially the siege is yet to be lifted.

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Sensationalist media reporting has blown the events of yesterday, in Pakistan, out of
proportion. The Karachi stock exchange has only exhibited a correction after several months of bubble-like activity. Most bourses experience this as a natural occurrence - however, in the context of yesterday's events it was associated to a lack of faith in the government surviving (interestingly the KSE did not experience a fall in activity when ex-PM Gillani stepped down last year, a much more significant event). Pakistan would 'seem' as if though it is in a crisis right now, however that is merely a consequence of a lack of understanding with respect to the events taking place.

from:  Stephen Hingor
Posted on: Jan 16, 2013 at 13:02 IST

From the day, the Pakistan was formed, none of the people elected
governments have completed their tenure successfully. The world was
watching Pakistan curiosly this time as it was the first time that a
civilian government was about to complete its full 5 years of office.
The elections to be held in may which was about to transfer the power

from:  Srikanth Sridhar
Posted on: Jan 16, 2013 at 07:51 IST

This may sound a little strange, but instead of talking and negotiating with the Pakistan govt, or army..why not we negotiate with the Taliban, who are equally opposed to Pakistan as we are....democracy or no democracy?

from:  mohan
Posted on: Jan 16, 2013 at 03:40 IST
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