FAKIR SYED IQTIDARUDDIN
KARACHI: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in the Rental Power Projects (RPPs) case on Tuesday making him the second PM to face legal charges after former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani was barred by the apex court from holding office in June last year, two months after convicting him of contempt of court.
According to details the apex court ordered arrest of 16 others accused including the prime minister within 24 hours and submit a report (challan) on Wednesday.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) would be reponsible if any of the accused fled the country, the court said further.
The order of the SC has come at a time when Minhaj-ul-Quran chief Tahir-ul-Qadri was leading the Long March in Islamabad to demand electoral reforms.
Qadri, while addressing the march said, "We have just received news that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has just given orders to arrest the prime minister," to a jubilant crowd.
He said everyone should offer Namaz-e-Zohar and then two Nafals of thanks (shukrana), gesturing with the victory sign saying, "Victory," "Victory," inviting the participants of the march to join him in celebration of the court's order, who were seen celebrating along with the Minhaj-ul-Quran chief chanting slogans of "Mubarak Ho," and Long Live the Supreme Court," as the news of the prime minister's arrest filtered through.
The 62-year-old prime minister is accused of taking kickbacks in rental power projects and is also accused of buying property abroad from money earned through corrupt means.
He has been defending his case in the Supreme Court.
The Karachi Stock Exchange (KSE) crashed more than 500 points immediately following news of the court's orders.
The Supreme Court, on March 30, directed NAB to proceed against ministers of water and power from 2006. Following the orders, NAB, on April 20, issued arrest warrants for 33 accused including the chief executive of the country.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2013