Pakistan: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was named with 20 others today as a suspect in the murder of 14 protestors in Lahore in June. The Pakistan Army is staging a constitutional coup.
According to a leader of the protest movement in Islamabad, "The army chief has asked us to give him 24 hours to solve the crisis…..The army will compile and put together a package of our demands and make sure they are implemented."
Comment: The Prime Minister was named in a first information report, which is a criminal complaint. That is the earliest stage in a criminal investigation. The charges are contrived and should be dismissed as an abuse of process.
The prime minister has absolute immunity from prosecution. The Pakistani courts confirmed that immunity for senior officials when Zardari was president of Pakistan. Thus, the allegations against Nawaz Sharif are driven by political machinations, to coerce him to resign as prime minister, most likely with the backing of the Pakistan Army.
The Army continues to despise Nawaz Sharif mainly for pursuing treason charges against former army chief and former president Musharraf.
Army meddling again. The Pakistan Army leadership said it will resolve the political crisis in Islamabad where protestors have camped out and continue to insist that Nawaz Sharif resign because of voter fraud. Nawaz Sharif reportedly has agreed to surrender much of his authority over national security affairs to the Chief of the Army Staff, in order to avoid a constitutional crisis.
The Pakistani newspaper Dawn reported that the Army has dictated to the Prime Minister that he will be a ceremonial prime minister for the remainder of his term of office. The Army will run the government.
Comment: The Pakistan Army is staging a coup. It is similar in style to that conductged against Benazir Bhutto by General Jehangir Karamat. Karamat used compliant civilian institutions against then-Prime Minister Bhutto to engineer her ouster. General Sharif is doing something similar. Without Army backing, Nawaz Sharif cannot remain in office. The police will not stand for law and the constitutional order against the Army.
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