Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 of his associates have been called to the Supreme Court following allegations of bribery and corruption.
The PM’s specific charges accuse him of accepting bribes whilst considering the case for a power generation project in 2010.
The news broke amid celebration in the country’s capital as anti-government protesters applauded and danced in the street. Others, however, saw the news not as a triumph for democracy but instead as an infiltration by anti-government rebels into the judiciary.
The court hearing comes with unfortunate timing for the Prime Minister as elections are due to be held this spring and came as he begins his campaign.
His advisor, Fawad Chaudhry told journalists: ”This was obviously scheduled for a time when Qadri was speaking, the only reason for it is to strengthen [the opposition's] mob.”
Raja Pervez Ashraf has been prime minister for little over 6 months after serving as minister for Water and Power for 3 years. He assumed power after his predecessor was forced to step down over corruption allegations (however unlike in England, where Gordon Brown simply assumed his place as party leader, Ashraf did go through the democratic election process.)
The claims suggest that the PM accepted bribes from energy companies in order to overlook the country’s best interests in the vital areas of water and power. They further the cause of anti-government protesters who are calling for a “peaceful revolution” and calm dissolution of the current government.
The calls from the Supreme Court came today following months of anti-government protests.
Most of the action is in the capital city, Islamabad, where Ashraf was scheduled to speak and also where radical cleric Tahir-ul Qadri who leads the anti-government movement is stationed.