‘Afghan peace process yet not began’



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Friday 18 January 2013

Last update 18 January 2013 1:12 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani ministers held talks yesterday with a protest leader leading a mass protest in Islamabad in an attempt to avert a political crisis and end a demonstration that has heaped pressure on the fragile government.
A decision by the Supreme Court to defer a case of alleged corruption against Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, after officials claimed not to have enough evidence to arrest him, seemed to give the government some breathing space.
Tension has been at fever pitch since Tuesday, when the court ordered Ashraf’s arrest and cleric Tahirul Qadri poured into Islamabad with tens of thousands of supporters, denouncing politicians and praising the armed forces and judiciary.
The timing sparked panic about a rumored judiciary-military plot to derail elections due by mid-May. The polls, if successful, would be the first democratic transition between two civilian governments in Pakistan’s history.
The crisis comes as Pakistan battles problems on numerous fronts: The economy is struggling, Taleban and other violence is at a high, the rupee is sinking, there is an appalling energy crisis and fledgling peace gains with India appear in jeopardy following five cross-border killings in a week.
Qadri signalled that his protest in Islamabad would end and invited the government to last-minute talks.
At around 4 p.m. (1100 GMT), a delegation of cabinet ministers and members of the coalition entered the bullet-proof container, where Qadri has been holed up for days on the main commercial avenue near Parliament.
Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira, who was part of the delegation, said the talks would try to resolve the situation, which has paralyzed part of the city.
Qadri’s supporters, who have braved cold weather and heavy rain to camp out since overnight Monday-Tuesday, broke into cheers and danced in the street at news of the dialogue.
Most were shivering with cold. Some were drying their clothes after the rain stopped and the sun came out, an AFP reporter said.
“You keep sitting here until the dialogue succeeds, a formal agreement is written and it is announced. Don’t move until then,” Qadri told them.
“Congratulations. The voice of the people has been heard. We will leave here after victory.”
Qadri wants Parliament dissolved immediately and a caretaker government set up in consultation with the military and judiciary, to implement reforms before free elections can be held.
The government has so far stuck to its position that parliament will disband in mid-March to make way for a caretaker government, set up in consultation with political parties, and for elections within 60 days — ometime by mid-May.
Qadri has announced that Thursday would be the last day of the sit-in. “Tomorrow there will be no sit-in. We have to end it today,” he added.
His sudden — and apparently well-financed — emergence after years living in Canada has been criticised as a ploy by sections of the establishment, particularly the armed forces, to delay the elections and regain power.
The military has remained silent during the protest and President Asif Ali Zardari has stayed in the financial capital Karachi.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry adjourned until Jan. 23 the case being heard against Ashraf and 15 others accused of corruption over power projects.
Chairman of the National Accountability Bureau Fasih Bokhari said the investigation was not yet complete and it would take take to find evidence to prosecute those allegedly involved.
Chaudhry ordered Bokhari to report back next week, having previously told him to bring the case files so that the court could itself point out evidence.
The court in March 2012 had ordered legal proceedings against Ashraf, who was water and power minister when the power projects were set up.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The $22-billion Riyadh Metro project is going on according to the plan despite the fact that many global projects are faltering.“There are many stalled projects all over the world and not in the Kingdom alone, but the metro project in the Sau...
JEDDAH: Four members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) were stabbed by a youth who was allegedly trying to blackmail a girl in Jeddah. The incident happened on Tuesday night and the four officers, who sus...
RIYADH: A recent report released by the Ministry of Labor revealed that the number of violations registered on the ministry’s electronic program “Together for Monitoring” in the months of December 2015 and January 2016 amounted to 484, of which 157 w...
RIYADH: Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih visited the medical complex in Thuwal, near Jeddah, on Tuesday. The facility was set up by Saudi Aramco, whose chairman is the health minister himself.According to the minister, the complex provides primary hea...
JEDDAH: A number of Shoura Council members have voiced objections to some imams who express their personal opinions during Friday sermons.The members asked the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to supervise the sermons to make sure they were written by spe...
MADINAH: Street vendors near the Prophet’s Mosque pose a risk to the country’s reputation and economy besides blocking the way of service cars, Red Crescent and Civil Defense vehicles, an expert has said.Ninety-eight percent of these street merchants...
RIYADH: Appropriate action has been taken against the Haia members who were involved in beating up a girl opposite the Nakheel shopping mall here recently, but the girl was also at fault, a Haia official has clarified.“A probe has revealed that the g...
I am from the east of France but moved to Saudi Arabia from Paris in 1990. I worked for a princess as a French language tutor. I was young and single. I thought it was very exotic and mysterious. I lived in a palace. I left Saudi Arabia in 1992 and c...
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) held a symposium on Kashmir and the obligation of Muslim world toward Kashmiris.It was presided by Ali Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi diplomat. Other guests and speakers at the event were Shahid Nayeem, pres...
DAMMAM: A total of 627 kidney transplant surgeries were performed in the Kingdom last year, bringing the number of kidney transplants, performed since the beginning of the organ donation program, to 9,000 surgeries, said Dr. Faisal Shaheen, director...
ABHA: Saudi women spend more on cosmetics compared to women in the West, the Arab world and even in the Gulf, economic studies show.Recent statistics issued by the Saudi Customs suggest the amount of imported cosmetics in the past year exceeded SR2.3...
RIYADH: A study is under way to provide health insurance to Umrah pilgrims and domestic workers and certain articles of the health regulations needs to be amended, an official has said.According to local media, the statement was made by Mohammed bin...
JEDDAH: The government last year helped over 2,000 children overcome circumstances that forced them to beg or work illegally. The number of children who got help to overcome was 2,039 last year, of which the proportion of the Saudi children was 16 pe...
RIYADH: The number of visitors to the United Kingdom from Saudi Arabia has been steadily increasing from 89,000 in 2009 to 144,000 in 2014.This was revealed at a presentation made to mark the launch of “Visit Britain” program in Riyadh on Wednesday....
NAJRAN: Three members of the Saudi National Guard died in Rabuah, Najran, on Wednesday.National Guard spokesman Maj. Mohammed Omari identified them as Lt. Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Shehri, Lt. Faisal bin Talal Al-Toub and Lt. Saud bin Khaled Al-Rukhayye...

Stay Connected

Facebook