Raja Pervez Ashraf

Massive Demonstrations, Arrest Warrant for Prime Minister Threaten Upcoming Pakistan Elections

For the first time in its 65 year history, Pakistan is poised to see an elected government fully complete its term in March. With chaos erupting on several fronts, though, the path toward electing a new government appears to be full of obstacles.

Last week saw sectarian bombings kill 96 Shi’ites in Quetta on Thursday alone, and tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets, refusing to bury the dead until Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf came to Quetta and agreed to fire the entire provincial government, as it was suspected of being involved in sectarian violence.

Ashraf finds himself at the center of a controversy, as well. The Pakistan Supreme Court issued a warrant for his arrest today in a long-simmering scandal dating back to when Ashraf was minister of water and power before he became Prime Minister. From Dawn:

The prime minister has been accused of receiving kickbacks and commission in the RPPs [Rental Power Projects] case as minister for water and power.

In the case, nine RPPs firms were accused of receiving more than Rs22 billion [1 R = .01 US $] as a mobilisation advance from the government to commission the projects but most of them did not set up their plants and a few of them installed them but with inordinate delay.

From the Reuters article on today’s developments in Pakistan, we have a description of how the election process is supposed to proceed:

The government and opposition are poised to start negotiating the formation of a caretaker administration to oversee the run-up to the polls as soon as parliament is dissolved, which is due to happen in March. An election date has yet to be announced.

The New York Times article on developments informs us that the elections are required to take place within 60 days of the end of the term for the parliament. Complicating the process immensely though, is the sudden appearance of cleric Tahir ul Qadri, who has returned to Pakistan from Canada to lead massive protests demanding that the government resign immediately, instead of in March. The Times explains that some see the hand of the military behind Qadri:

The court order came as an enigmatic preacher turned politician, Muhammad Tahir ul Qadri, addressed thousands of supporters outside Parliament and repeated calls for the government’s ouster. In earlier speeches, he said that a caretaker administration led by technocrats should take its place.

The confluence of the two events stoked growing speculation that Pakistan’s powerful military was quietly supporting moves that would delay general elections that are due to take place this spring, most likely through the imposition of a military-backed caretaker administration.

The AP has more on what Qadri had to say at today’s rally: Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz RT @armandodkos: As damning of journalists as anything I've read. https://t.co/MKuZ2mwRJ2
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JimWhiteGNV Many thanks to Rev. Shelly Wilson, United Church of Gainesville for highlighting that message from MLK this week.
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JimWhiteGNV That's powerful stuff from MLK and rings just as true today as Dec. 18, 1963 when he spoke to Western Michigan University. .
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JimWhiteGNV I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self‐defeating effects of physical violence.
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JimWhiteGNV I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few.
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JimWhiteGNV I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry.
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JimWhiteGNV I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination.
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JimWhiteGNV there are certain things in our nation and in the world which I am proud to be maladjusted
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JimWhiteGNV On being creatively maladjusted, the next few quotes from MLK can be found here: http://t.co/IzvP5IVBei
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JimWhiteGNV Who knew that the P5+1 and Iran negotiations were taking place at the Hotel California? But take as long as is needed, folks. Get it right.
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emptywheel Hacking Team CEO brands himself as a pro-Bolton Neocon. https://t.co/PDr1FYbsyS
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July 2015
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