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WASHINGTON – Pakistan is facing fresh political turmoil as major government institutions are uniting with the goal of ousting President Ali Zardari, reports Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Amid charges of rampant corruption among government ministers, the military appears to be using the country’s powerful judiciary to force political change, which could lead to a military coup.
The military, no friend of Zardari, until now has worked behind the scenes to challenge the president.
The judiciary, with apparent military acquiescence, has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf for alleged corruption. Ashraf was the minister of water and power under the previous prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was forced to leave office due to a conviction by the same court.
Support for the military comes from two major opposition figures who are avowed anti-Americans and could be set up by the military to assume power if Zardari resigns.
One of the leaders demanding Zardari’s resignation is a Pakistani-Canadian cleric, Tahirul Qadri, who is leading major demonstrations against the government.
The other is former cricket player-turned-politician Imran Khan. He heads the Pakistani Tehrik-e-Insaaf, PTI, or Justice Movement. Like Qadri, Khan has led many demonstrations demanding Zardari’s resignation and the arrest of Ashraf as ordered by the court.
“Many believe that Khan, like Qadri, is fully backed by the military establishment, charges that both politicians deny,” regional analyst Syed Fazl-e-Haider told the Asia Times.
“If the army openly wades into the conflict between the government and the judiciary, this may delay the election, posing a further threat to the democratic system,” Haider said.
General elections are to take place May 17, but demonstrators are demanding electoral reforms before then.
“If the generals and judges have indeed formed an alliance aiming at the creation of a ‘controlled democracy,’ then a new force, not tried and tested before in politics, could soon be ruling the country,” Haider added. “Some political observers say the PTI, which is on good terms with both the judiciary and military, could be the political wing of that third force.”
Haider pointed out that the judicial activism shows a power shift in a country in which the military has called the shots for the past decades.
“It has been the army in the past that dismissed the civilian governments,” Haider said, “but now the judiciary is powerful enough to oust a sitting premier and his cabinet.”
Yet, the military continues to call the shots, though it now has let the judiciary take the lead in ousting civilian governments. The judiciary took the lead when former Pakistani president, retired Gen. Pervez Musharraf, fired the country’s top judge, Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary, and declared martial law.
Ultimately, sources contend, the military will have the last say, using the judiciary as its instrument.
The concern is that the military still regards India as Pakistan’s chief enemy and has control and influence over more than 30 Islamic terrorist groups. The jihadists can act as proxies for the military, as they now are doing in the disputed area of India-administered Kashmir, which has a Muslim-majority population.
The latest attacks by Pakistani terrorist groups in Kashmir have prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to reconsider diplomatic ties with Pakistan.
The development could upset U.S. strategy for the region, since relations between Pakistan and the U.S. already are approaching a breaking point.
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