Thursday, 17 January 2013

PAKISTAN:''Leadership crisis'': The Authorities refuse to arrest PM and others

The political crisis in Pakistan threatens to trigger yet another period of instability in the country. The three-way power struggle between the military, the government and the courts once again exposes the weaknesses of the country's democratic institutions.

The political drama playing out in Pakistan this week took another twist Tuesday when the country's high court ordered the arrest of Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on suspicions of corruption and nepotism.  But today, the governmental corruption agency has refused to arrest Mr Raja Pervez Ashraf.

TV channels reported that Pakistani Fasih Bokhari, President of the National Bureau of monitoring responsibilities (NAB) told the court, on Thursday that the investigation was inadequate and therefore he refused to make the arrests of the Prime Minister and other officials implicated.

The Supreme Court has in turn requested to immediately submit the relevant records to determine if it had enough evidence to sustain the charges. But  also agreed to consider a petition accusing of blasphemy Sherry Rehman, one of the leading figures of the PPP, now ambassador to the United States.

Since Sunday self proclaimed revolutionary leader Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has been leading a protest march calling for the ouster of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zadari. Qadri, a moderate clergyman who has denounced corruption among the political class, has seen a meteoric rise to popularity over the last months.

The country's normally meddlesome military has been strangely silent in the midst of chaos. That silence has led some observers to believe that the country's generals are behind Qadri's campaign.
The turmoil comes just weeks before Pakistan's government was set to complete its five year term, a milestone in a country that normally experiences volatile shifts of power. At the same time violence has been growing with extremists attacking the government and religious minorities.

The traditional weaknesses of the country's democratic institutions are once again on display. In principal, the court is right to act on the corruption allegations. But the moment chosen is fatal, because a moderate clergyman, probably with enthusiastic military support, has been catapulted to revolutionary status and could bring about the fall of Zadari's leadership with help from the street.

Pakistani generals believe that the country's politicians put their own personal ambitions over the well being of the nation, as they define it. A belief that is not entirely untrue. The military, however, is overlooking the fact that it too has failed in the fight against violent extremism. One could view the current conflict between politicians, judges and armed forces as the growing pains of democracy. After decades of military dictatorships and governments that are obedient to the generals, it is high time that Pakistan finds an urgent and necessary balance among its institutions

The Pakistani people rely more on personal relationships than on the institutions of their country…. Pakistan not only needs a new government, but also a new political culture. The country is mired in a swamp of violence, injustice, corruption and political hypocrisy. A halfway democratic political reboot would not be a bad start.

By Guylain Gustave Moke
Political Analyst/Writer
Investigative Journalist