Thursday, August 21, 2014

Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif faces murder charges

Protesters in Pakistan are trying to force the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. A Lahore court ordered murder charges be brought against both Sharif and his brother after a crackdown on a protest by preacher Muhammad Qadri last June.
Muhammad Qadri is a popular anti-Taliban anti-terror preacher. However, he has also made speeches critical of the Sharifs and their associates for corruption. He is a dual Canadian, Pakistani citizen who lived in Toronto for a number of years before returning to Pakistan. The Lahore Sessions Court gave the order: A Pakistani court on Saturday ordered framing of murder charges against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his brother and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz and 19 others over the June violence near Canada-based cleric Tahirul Qadri's headquarters that killed 14 of his supporters.
The Punjab government will challenge the court's decision according to an official of the ruling party. Protesters arrived in Islamabad after a Long March in which there were clashes with government supporters along the way. Along with Qadri, leader of an opposition party PTI, Imran Khan, led the protests in Islamabad. Even before the murder charges were laid the protesters were calling for the resignation of Sharif and fresh elections accusing him of corruption and the last elections as rigged. Together Khan and Qadri issued an ultimatum for Sharif to resign or face growing disobedience including not paying taxes. Later Khan announced that his entire PTI party the third largest in parliament would quit the parliament. The party holds about 10 per cent of the seats but also have significant positions in three provincial parliaments as well. The ruling PML-N party insists they are not about to resign in face of the protests. Should the situation further destabilize their is always a chance that the armed forces will take over power.


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