Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

A certain season of uncertainty in Pakistan

Posted in Uncategorized by osamabinjavaid on January 22, 2013

Just a few hundred meters away from the parliament, the presidency and the supreme court is the square in shape of the letter “D”.

This is where Canadian-Pakistani cleric Tahirul Qadri, intended to create his version of Egypt’s Tahrir square.

In a related but not directly linked development, the Supreme Court has given orders to arrest the prime minister on a corruption case pending since March.

The ruling has given new impetus to Qadri’s followers but the chief justice has made it clear that elections will be held on time and no unconstitutional force will be supported.

The prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf is among 16 people who have been implicated in kickbacks involving rental power plants while he was the minister for water and power.

But nothing in Pakistan is simple, the supreme court’s decision has to go through the National Accountability Bureau or NAB. On Thursday, the court was angry at the NAB chairman for not carrying out its orders and issued a contempt of court notice against him  The supreme court said it had based the decision on documents provided by the government and was surprised at the argument of the NAB prosecutor who wanted time to further investigate the case. The court has told NAB to hand over all case records.The case has been adjourned till January 23rd.
For the last two years winters in Islamabad have seen a spike in political temperature.  In 2011-12 around the same time it was Imran Khan on the wave of change and rooting out corruption. This year it’s Qadri. Tahirul Qadri returned to Pakistan after getting his Canadian citizenship, which he says is permissible under Pakistani law.

He has previously been elected under Genaral Pervez Musharraf’s government and has also been part of the former military dictator Ziaul Haq’s martial law regime. But he says he has come back to Pakistan as an agent of change.

He hasn’t been able to achieve much but inadvertently brought together all political parties on the agenda of saving democracy. Even a coalition partner of the government, the MQM, took back its decision to take part in Qadri’s rally.

Political leaders in Pakistan have questioned his millions of dollars which are being spent on arranging rallies and massive publicity campaigns in all forms of media.

Tahirul Qadri’s Minhajul Quran international insists that funds have been collected by its network of followers in 90 countries.

But Qadri is using popular slogans and public frustration as the basis for his demand of “cleansing the political system”. In the last five years the PPP led coalition has been criticized for bad governance and a huge increase in corruption and inflation.

At an all parties conference convened under Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, political parties agreed to not support Qadri but demanded that the government announce the schedule for elections and setup a caretaker govt.

The assemblies complete their tenure on March 16 and lections have been promised in two months after a caretaker government takes charge. Important announcements are expected in the national assembly session on January 21.

Qadri had made strong statements for the duration of his protest and the responded in kind. The minister for information said Qadri’s making vague demands. Qamar Zaman Kaira said if Qadri doesn’t calm down, political parties can also bring their crowds to the streets. But that war of words has now ended.

Qadri and the government called it their victory but none of his big demands were met. Both sides have agreed on a long march declaration. Some are saying that the establishment’s plan to shake up the political system has been achieved.

But the sit in is finally over and for Pakistanis it has come as a sigh of relief. Because a fragile democracy like Pakistan – after a decade of a military dictatorship – can ill afford showdowns.

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