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Pakistani Supreme Court Orders Arrest of Prime Minister ‘Rental Rajah’

Jan 16, 2013
 
Faizel Patel, Radio Islam News – 2013-01-16
 
The Pakistani Supreme Court has ordered the arrest of Raja Pervez Ashraf the country's prime minister, in a case involving contracts for the purchase of rental power plants by the federal government when Ashraf was the federal minister for water and power.

The order by the Supreme Court said, “Ashraf, in his capacity as minister for water and power, violated the principle of transparency, therefore [his] involvement in getting financial benefits out of the same by indulging in corruption and corrupt practices cannot be overruled.”

The move has plunged the country into fresh political turmoil and came as the populist cleric, who is believed to be backed by the military, demanded the resignation of the government in protests attended by thousands of followers in the heart of the capital Islamabad. The Supreme Court gave authorities 24 hours to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 16 others.

Hamid Gul, a retired former general of the Pakistani army and ISI chief spoke to Radio Islam’s Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat regarding the Supreme Court ruling. Gul said this development is part of a historical struggle which is transpiring between the judiciary, the executive branch of the state and the legislative of Pakistan state. He said Ashraf and the other 16 are trying to resist arrest while the court is trying to establish its authority. “For maybe four years now this government has been ignoring, or in some cases ridiculing the orders of the Supreme Court,” said Gul.

The term of the Pakistani government is coming to an end and there have been calls for the case against Ashraf to be finalized. Gul reiterated, “people have assumed that this in an order to arrest the prime minister. That is probably not true. That has certain legal implications, because the prime minister cannot be removed until he is convicted by the court. So he is not a convicted person yet and therefore he can be removed only by the parliament.”

Gul said there are cries for the government to dissolve the assembly which will result in a caretaker government taking over. “Then Raja Pervez Ashraf who is generally known as “Rental Rajah” because it is a case of rental power plants that have implicated him. So he will automatically be proceeded against as a criminal,” said Gul.

Asked by Moulana Ravat what is status is of the upcoming elections with regards to front runners and who is likely to be victorious. Gul said it is going to be a “hung parliament”. “In my opinion and you know my experience is considerable in this regard, so I would say that if free and fair elections is held, probably Nawaz Sharif will emerge as the leading runner. But he will not be able to form a strong government of his own. He will have to coalesce with other factions and parties to be able to set up a government,” said Gul.

Gul added, “Nawaz Sharif is reluctant to join up with the right wing political parties like Jamaat-e-Islami and others of the same ilk because of, I think perhaps pressures from America or from the West, he wants to appease them at the same time.” Gul said that Imran Khan, Pakistan cricket teams former captain from the Tehreek-e-Insaf party poses no challenge to Nawaz Sharif as he has lost momentum and Mohammad Tahir-ul-Qadri who heads the Tehrik Minhaj-up-Quran who has been featured extensively in the media lately, is generally not believed to be a trusted man amongst the Pakistani’s.

A general election will be held to elect the MP’s for the 14th National Assembly of the parliament of Pakistan. The current National Assembly will be dissolved on or before the 18th March 2013. During this time, the National Assembly would’ve completed its tenure from the first session of the National Assembly elected in the 2008 general election. Elections must be held within sixty days after parliament dissolves, therefore elections in Pakistan must take place by the 17th May 2013.

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