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Pakistan Turmoil Triggers Army Coup Fears

Published: 16/01/2013 05:18:16 PM GMT
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ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's top court on Tuesday, January 15, ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with an alleged corruption scandal, triggering fears of a military coup in the nuclear-armed Musli (more)

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's top court on Tuesday, January 15, ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with an alleged corruption scandal, triggering fears of a military coup in the nuclear-armed Muslim country.

“The situation has turned out to be very complicated, which may result in yet another military takeover,” Azam Zohrani, a Karachi-based political analyst, told OnIslam.net.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered anti-corruption authorities to arrest the Pakistani premier and 16 others in connection with a corruption scandal involving power plants while he served as water and power minister.

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The order came as thousands of people led by Pakistani-Canadian scholar Tahir-ul-Qadri are staging a sit-in near the parliament building to demand reforms in the country.

“The timing of the Supreme Court judgment and the sit-in is very important,” Zohrani said.

“No matter it is a coincidence or a deliberate attempt, but it may lead the country to another martial law.

“If we look at the current scenario whereby your capital is besieged by thousands of so-called reformers, and the police are raiding to arrest your prime minister, then no rocket-science is required to understand where will this leave us.”

Western media say that Qadri, who has a history of ties to the army, is riding an “army horse”, a terminology used for someone who is favored by the military in Pakistan.

Qadri, who played a role in backing a military coup in 1999, threatened to remain camped out near the federal parliament with thousands of supporters until his demands for the resignation of the government were met.

“If not, then we will not let the new elections happen because they will bring the same corrupt politicians into power,” he said.

Pakistan's powerful army has a long history of coups and intervening in politics.

These days it seems to have little appetite for a coup but many believe it still tries to exert behind-the-scenes influence on politics.

The ruling coalition led by the Pakistan Peoples' Party has weathered a series of crises with the judiciary and military over the last few years and hopes its parliamentary majority will help it survive until elections are called within a few months.

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Analysts opine that a military takeover in Pakistan would be welcomed by the United States and its allies.

“This is their (US and allies) compulsion that they cannot openly welcome or support a military takeover,” Abdul Khalique Ali, another Karachi-based analyst, told OnIslam.net.

“Therefore, we should expect condemnation from them in case of a military takeover.

“But in reality, the military takeover will make them happy.”

Ali thinks that Washington feels comfortable in dealing with the army instead of the parliament.

“The parliament has to take public sentiments into consideration before taking any decision, especially when it concerns America or the West. But, a military government has no such barrier,” he opined.

“Therefore, America would be happy to deal with a military regime vis-à-vis its proposed pullout from Afghanistan.”

But some Pakistani analysts rule out a military coup in the Muslim country.

“Despite the fact that the situation is creepy, I still believe that the army will not takeover,” Imtiaz Faran, a senior political analyst, told OnIslam.net.

He observed that if the army had any such plans, there were various occasions when it could have taken over the country.

“The army is deeply engaged in war on terror, right from eastern borders to western front,” he said.

“It does not want to jump into the mess where it can get very little as compared to the possible loss,” he added, referring to the army's operations against pro-Taliban militants in the troubled northern belt and southwestern Balochistan.

“In given situation, the army will not choose a suicidal path.”

The analyst, however, predicts the dissolution of the parliament and the announcement for new elections in the coming days.“That is the only solution to the ongoing mess, in my opinion.”

Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net




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