Asia

Pakistan media fear more chaos over possible PM arrest

  • 16 January 2013
  • From the section Asia
Activists of the ruling Pakistani Peoples Party protest against the Supreme Court decision to arrest Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf
Image caption Reports of the arrest order against Mr Ashraf have angered his supporters

Pakistani media have predicted more "chaos" and "uncertainty" in the wake of an arrest order against Prime Minister Raza Pervez Ashraf and the ongoing anti-corruption protests in Islamabad.

The country saw an "unprecedented" turn of events yesterday when the Pakistan Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant against Mr Ashraf over corruption cases amid a "long march" led by influential religious scholar Tahirul Qadri.

Some editorial writers and commentators saw a link between the two events, while others simply dismissed it as a "conspiracy theory".

But most of them agreed on one point - the country is further "dissenting into chaos".

Future tense

Financial daily Business Recorder said the country is "thrust into deeper uncertainty" after a day of "high drama" in Islamabad.

Pakistan Observer's Asif Haroon Raja also felt that "fast-changing" political activities have bred "uncertainty and doubts" over the future of the current government and upcoming elections.

Mr Ashraf has promised to take action according to the law of the land and has denied accepting bribes when approving power generation projects as minister for water and power in 2010.

But his promise has not been satisfied the country's media which feels Pakistan is looking at tough times in the coming days.

The Frontier Post said the country has landed in a "deep crisis" and "huge mess".

"It (the government) could have, and should have, anticipated this apex court's order. But amazingly it did not. And now it is in a big soup and the country in a bigger pickle," the paper wrote.

The News called the arrest order against Mr Ashraf an "unusual course of events" and "virtually unprecedented" even in Pakistan's "troubled history".

Questions on democracy

The country is due to vote for a new government in a few months, but yesterday's political events have now cast doubts over the smooth functioning of democracy.

The Nation said "stability" is in "tailspin" at the moment. "The arrest order's timing has raised certain crucial questions about the likelihood of the democratic setup surviving as it approaches the end of its term," the paper said.

Another national newspaper, Daily Times, too felt that yesterday's events have "destabilised" the political system and the "country as a whole".

"What is not obvious are the possible hidden hands orchestrating these moves and playing the situation like piano keys. This discordant melody can and will be exposed only in the fullness of time. Meanwhile, the advice to all citizens is: fasten your seat belts," the paper's editorial said.

The Express Tribune said the degree of questioning over what will happen next further adds to uncertainty. "Such a situation is not healthy for our nation or our democracy," it said.

Urdu paper Mashriq hoped that politicians will take efforts to avoid causing any harm to the country's democratic system.

Another Urdu daily Ummat felt the nation would face "serious losses" if the political crisis continues in the country.

Rumours

Pakistan's media also highlighted rumours which have been spreading like wildfire due to a lack of clear information on the country's future.

Nadeem Syed of Pakistan Observer said yesterday's events encouraged conspiracy theorists and rumour mongers to have a field day.

"The general perception among these quarters is this - that a stage is being set to postpone elections for an indefinite period," he wrote.

Meanwhile, the Daily Times too highlighted the role of rumours in the current circumstances.

"Not only the conspiracy minded, even ordinary citizens are forced to speculate that this series of developments coming thick and fast on each other's heels could not be a coincidence, and that suspicion centres on a deep rooted conspiracy to abort the upcoming elections," the paper said.

The News also noted the high level of speculations. "The order created an instant flurry and the level of speculation rose to a new pitch, with people wondering about how things will unfold and how matters will be handled," it said.

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