‘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

JEDDAH: Grand Mufti and Chairman of the Council of Senior Scholarships Sheikh Abdulaziz Abdullah Al-Asheikh called on astronomers questioning the accuracy of prayer timings in the Umm Al-Qura calendar to refrain from confusing people, and confirmed t...
JEDDAH: Turkey’s security agencies have arrested 15,000 members of the Daesh terrorist organization at its airports and border crossings, a diplomat said here recently.The Daesh members had attempted to enter Turkey territory, said Fikrat Ozar, consu...
JEDDAH: The Saudi government has welcomed the Gulf Cooperation Council’s proposals to fight terrorist groups that are attempting to undermine the region’s security and social fabric.This comes in the wake of an extraordinary meeting held by the GCC’s...
JEDDAH: The National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) is racing against the clock to unravel the circumstances surrounding the enrollment of 107,000 beneficiaries on the lists of social insurance without legal entitlements. These beneficiaries are...
MADINAH: Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah and chairperson of the board of directors of the Takaful Welfare Society for Orphan Care in Madinah, has inaugurated a project to reconstruct houses of orphans.According to the Takaful program, 1...
RIYADH: The Kingdom on Tuesday announced that vaccination against meningitis is mandatory for all local and international Haj pilgrims, while flu shots are recommended for their own safety.Health Ministry Spokesman Khalid Al-Mirghalani told Arab News...
MAKKAH: A mentally-ill Turkish man killed a Sudanese patient in the Makkah Mental Health Hospital of King Abdul Aziz Hospital in Al-Zahir, a news website has reported, quoting Makkah police.The Turkish patient, in his 50s, confronted the Sudanese whe...
RIYADH: Mohammed Ali Al-Husseini, secretary-general of the Arab Muslim Council, based in Lebanon, said here recently that Saudi Arabia enjoys the trust of the international community as the first reference for the Muslim world.The Lebanese Shiite lea...
RIYADH: The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (K.A.CARE) is working closely with the Ministry of Transportation, the Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) and the Director-General of Military Surveying t...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Education has received requests from 14 governmental agencies that their employees be sent abroad for studies in different specialities. The request is to include the employees as part of the third phase of Custodian of the Tw...
RIYADH: Argentina enjoys excellent ties with Saudi Arabia as it marks its 199th Independence Day anniversary on July 9, according to Ambassador Jaime Sergio Cerda.“Excellent bilateral ties bind the two countries as Argentina holds its 199th Independe...
JEDDAH/KUWAIT CITY: Three Saudi brothers have been arrested in connection with the suicide bombing of a mosque in Kuwait last month, the Saudi and Kuwaiti authorities said on Tuesday. Daesh owned up the attack during Friday prayers, which killed 27...
MAKKAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman performed funeral prayers for Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz bin Musaed, the deceased governor of the Northern Borders Province, at the Grand Mosque on Sunday night.Those present included Makkah G...
JEDDAH: More than 14 million worshippers and pilgrims visited Makkah in the first 16 days of Ramadan, a 40 percent increase compared to the same period last year.These figures were unveiled at a meeting of the Central Haj Committee, chaired by Makkah...
KUWAIT: Kuwait has detained 26 people suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing on a Shiite mosque last month that killed 27 people, a local daily reported on Monday, quoting the public prosecutor.The June 26 attack by Daesh jolted Kuwait, raisin...

Stay Connected

Facebook