Top court orders arrest of PM

Copy of MDF60150 REUTERS Members of the civil society hold placards during a protest against the Supreme Court decision to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Lahore on Tuesday, January 15, 2013.

Islamabad - Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the prime minister on Tuesday on corruption allegations, bringing pressure on a government that is facing street protests led by a cleric with a history of ties to the army.

The combination of the arrest order and mass protest in the capital led by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri raised fears by politicians that the military was working with the judiciary to force out a civilian leader.

“There is no doubt Qadri’s march and the Supreme Court’s verdict were masterminded by the military establishment of Pakistan,” said Fawad Chaudhry, an aide to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

“The military can intervene at this moment as the Supreme Court has opened a way for it.”

However, the ruling coalition has a majority in parliament and MPs can elect another prime minister if Ashraf is ousted.

Elections are due in a few months and President Asif Ali Zardari hopes to lead the first civilian government in Pakistan’s 65 years as an independent nation that will complete its full term.

Pakistan’s powerful army has a long history of coups and intervening in politics. – Reuters


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