Created on: January 15, 2013
Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 other government officials Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. The arrest order was announced as part of allegations of corruption, but the prime minister denies accepting bribes when he approved power generation projects for water and power in 2010 in a country that has a a scarcity of energy.
According to the order, the prime minister and the other accused people should be arrested and appear before the court within 24 hours. However, BBC News reports that the attorneys for the prime minister may utilize certain methods to delay Ashraf’s appearance.
The latest announcement is expected to lead to further political chaos and another strain in the contentious relations between the federal government, the military and the courts. When the news made the rounds, thousands of protesters in Islamabad, who were demanding the government to resign, were either jumping for joy or weeping in excitement.
Protesters who have been rallying on the streets of Islamabad are supporters of Tahir ul Qadri, a Muslim cleric who has called for Pakistan's leaders to be thrown out and implement a caretaker government to initiate electoral reform and end corruption, a chronic problem in the country bordering with Afghanistan.
“So far we have not received anything from the Supreme Court in writing. The government, the law ministry and the prime minister have not received any order from the Supreme Court,” said Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira in a reported interview with Geo. “The timing of the decision should be noted. As far as I have been told, the prime minister's name is not mentioned in the Supreme Court order and hype has been created.”
Despite the order, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Ashraf will still continue on as prime minister, according to a report from CNN.
“Even after this order, (Ashraf) is the prime minister and, God willing, he will continue as prime minister,” said Malik.
Others call it a conspiracy to flush out the prime minister.
“We consider it a judicial coup, and it's part of a greater plan to derail democracy,” said Fawad Chaudhry, an adviser to the prime minister.
Following the Supreme Court news, the Karachi Stock Exchange plummeted by 500 points in just 10 minutes of trading.
This isn’t the first time that Pakistan has had its leader stripped from power. Last year, the Supreme Court ousted former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani over a contempt case relating to old corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Voters are scheduled to head to the polls in May, but many in the country have accused the prime minister of attempting to postpone elections.
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