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By Tariq Butt
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court’s order to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf was the third major blow that shook the government, coming amidst the launch of long march and sit-in staged by Dr Tahirul Qadri and his supporters at the Parliament D-Chowk.

 

Proclamation of governor’s rule in Balochistan was the first jolt apart from Dr Qadri’s protest. While the government was coping with the long march, the powerful judicial order came.

 

Although these shocking developments taking place in a quick succession have no relation with each other, Dr Qadri interpreted the court direction and imposition of governor’s rule as triumph of his continuing protest. But they certainly are strange coincidences. However, Qadri has hardly anything to do with bringing about the presidential rule and the judicial order.

 

To some, it appeared that the court direction that came in the middle of Dr Qadri’s aggressive speech to the marchers was meant to extend a benefit to his movement. It did buoy him up unprecedentedly, but it is a hard fact that the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case was going in for the past six months in the wake of the historic judgment delivered in March last, canceling all the RPPs. Now the court has ordered arrest of Pervez Ashraf, who had not been elected as prime minister at the start of the trial. As usual, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was dragging its feet in implementing the ruling.

 

However, the timing of the judicial order to arrest the sitting prime minister went to a huge advantage of Dr Qadri’s protest. He vociferously congratulated the crowd and the apex court as if this had happened because of his long march and sit-in. He declared with remarkable joy that half of the job has been done when he has finished half of his speech. ‘Long Live Supreme Court’ was the slogan he shouted.

 

Some translated the court direction as the usual complicity between the establishment and the apex court to lift Dr Qadri’s protest in order to have a system of their choice in place of the present dispensation. But they forget that a few hours before this order, the Supreme Court got a commitment from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), whose dissolution Dr Qadri demands, for holding the next general elections on time. And the court also stated that the upcoming polls would be held as scheduled and that it was unconcerned with what was happening outside (Dr Qadri’s sit-in). This was a stern warning to those seeking delay in holding the upcoming elections to achieve their hidden agenda. Besides, the court’s inquiry from the ECP was a clear recognition of the constitutional forum that is mandated to organize the parliamentary polls.

 

When Dr Qadri started his march on Jan 13, he said in his usual belligerent tone that he wants to hear the news by the time he would reach the federal capital that the Balochistan government has been dismissed. It was sacked before he arrived in Islamabad. However, the imposition of governor’s rule was a constitutional mechanism to which the federal government resorted due to the immense pressure of the tormented Hazara community.

 

Ironically, the prime minister’s arrest ordered by the apex court over which Dr Qadri was elated was result of a judgment that was delivered on petitions filed by the members of the parliament that he dubbed fake. Members of the National Assembly Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat and Khawaja Asif were the two key petitioners in the case.

 

Dr Qadri gave the impression with certainty in his fairly long address that he would accomplish his agenda in the next two days when he said he would address the protesters on Wednesday and there would be no need for him to do so the following day because by then he would achieve his objective.

 

Although Dr Qadri was greatly happy over the court order taking it as half-completion of his agenda, it eclipsed his protest as the attention of all and sundry was concentrated the judicial direction. The federal government also focused on the court order rather than the sit-in.