Pakistan: Arrest Prime Minister

Meanwhile, cleric Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri makes waves

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 15, 2013 2:17 AM CST

(Newser) – Fresh turmoil in Pakistan today, as its Supreme Court ordered that Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf be arrested within 24 hours. The move isn't exactly a surprise, but the drama there isn't limited to Ashraf's situation, which springs from accusations that the former water and power minister scored kickbacks from private energy initiatives. Rather, it's another name that's making waves: that of Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri. The firebrand cleric has been camped out in Islamabad, where he is calling for the government to resign—and he's surrounded by thousands of supporters, reports Reuters.

Qadri has pledged to remain near parliament until the government does away with the current legislature and installs a caretaker government. The military is believed to be backing him in the hopes he will create an opening for it to play a role in said government and potentially delay spring elections, reports the New York Times. Is Ashraf's lot linked to Qadri's? The Times says there's no proof of that, though analysts believe the court may be leveraging the anti-government sentiment he is creating in order to continue its crusade against President Asif Ali Zardari. Interesting side note: In addition to his many religious followers, Qadri has attracted a number of other supporters to his cause by way of his decision to leave a " luxurious" lifestyle in Canada and return to Pakistan.

In this Friday, June 22, 2012 file photo, Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf waves in Islamabad, Pakistan.
In this Friday, June 22, 2012 file photo, Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf waves in Islamabad, Pakistan.   (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash, File)
Supporters of Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri listen to his speech, unseen, at an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.
Supporters of Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri listen to his speech, unseen, at an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013.   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
Pakistan Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri addresses his supporters from behind a bullet-proof glass at an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. Thousands of anti-government protesters are rallying in the streets of the Pakistani capital for a second day despite early-morning clashes with police who fired shots...
Pakistan Sunni Muslim cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri addresses his supporters from behind a bullet-proof glass at an anti-government rally in Islamabad, Pakistan on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013. Thousands of anti-government...   (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed)
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