sectarian killings

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
emptywheel @MasaccioEW No no no. That's what you do to get the whip job. Speaker takes something special.
emptywheel @nickmanes1 Also bc MI-3rd doesn't fit into those demos perfectly so dismissing GR makes it easier to explain away @liferstate
bmaz @HoltenMark I do not know what polling you are viewing, but I would urge a deeper dive on it.
bmaz If you look at honest demographics, the Dems ARE the majority party+so are most of their ideas+thoughts
bmaz @Comanchegyrl Hahaha, filed in the "Things Not Gonna Happen" container. Fortunately or unfortunately. Not even sure which anymore.
bmaz McCarthy drops out!! Lovely. Of course. Maybe the talking media heads can deign to tell us how they anointed that jackass to start with??
emptywheel Maybe GOP should elect a Speaker same way they pick their POTUS nominee? W/drawn out televised reality show?
bmaz Two seriously intellectually broke fuckwads are on TV.
emptywheel "Crying in the Cloak Room." My new country ballad about the House GOP.
emptywheel @bansheebabe Pretty sure the Pope managed that. That's what led to @SpeakerBoehner's resignation in the first place. @VP @GOP
emptywheel Really hoping @HillaryClinton steps up w/a 3AM phone call joke what with all these men crying over a little unrest.
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