Jan 15 2013
Pakistan’s internal political atmosphere was tense Tuesday as tens of thousands gathered outside Parliament in the capital city of Islamabad to join a popular protest against corruption in government, calling for ‘revolution’ if their demands for a peaceful transition of power were not followed.
A conflation of anti-corruption sentiment and anger over internal terrorist attacks and ongoing violence in the tribal areas of western Pakistan–including ongoing US drone strikes that many blame, at least in part, on the ruling parties–are coming together to challenge the government’s legitimacy.
On the same day as the protests in Islamabad, the nation’s supreme court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in connection with a corruption scandal.
Cleric-turned political activist Tahir-ul-Qadri led the throngs of angered Pakistanis outside Parliament with an impassioned speech against the ruling government.
“We are here in front of the parliament house just to save our country from collapse and from complete ruin,” he said in an address reported by Al-Jazeera. Though he welcomed the news about PM Pervez, he urged his supporters to continue their sit-in until Wednesday.
“We need substantial changes and reforms in our democratic political electoral system. We want to put democracy in its letter and spirit in place,” he said.
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