Emeutes au Penjab février 2009

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Pakistan riots enter third day


Friday, 27 February 2009

Protests against a court decision to ban Pakistan‘s ex-PM Nawaz Sharif and his brother from elected office have entered a third day.

Incidents of violence were reported from all over Punjab province, which is a Sharif stronghold, and there were smaller anti-government protests in Islamabad.

Police have been using teargas in an attempt to quell the unrest.

Video : http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7915687.stm

Troops sent to Punjab amid riots


Friday, February 27, 2009

Thousands of people have rioted in Pakistan for the third day in protest over a court order banning Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the country’s biggest opposition party, from running for office.

Pakistani paramilitary troops were sent to Punjab on Friday after the protests erupted over the imposition of direct federal rule over the province.

The street protests followed a ruling by Pakistan‘s supreme court on Wednesday that barred Sharif, the former prime minister, from running for office in general elections set to take place in 2013.

The court also barred Sharif’s brother Shahbaz from elected office, effectively unseating him as chief minister of Punjab, the country’s largest and most powerful province.

While it remains unclear as to when a new provincial government would be formed, Punjab will remain under temporary control of the governor, a Zardari appointee.

Deepening turmoil

The development is a sign of deepening turmoil in Pakistan at a time when Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan‘s president, is struggling to stave off political instability.

It has also intensified the confrontation between Pakistan‘s two leading parties – Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).

Sharif, who together with Shahbaz Sharif has a strong political base in Punjab, has claimed the ruling was meant to keep him out of politics and then called for nationwide protests.

« I assure the nation [that] if they back us, we will establish a democratic set-up in this country, » Sharif said on Thursday in a televised media conference.

« I don’t believe in violence and do not want any destruction, but if people want to express their feelings against this decision, who can stop them? » Sharif said.

Life imprisonment

Sharif’s government was removed in a military coup in 1999 and he was sentenced to life imprisonment for ordering the hijacking of a passenger aircraft carrying Pervez Musharraf, who then served as Pakistan‘s chief of army staff.

Sharif was later exiled to Saudi Arabia but returned to Pakistan in 2007 and led the PML-N to election victory in Punjab, his home province.

The party emerged as the second-largest party in the national assembly and briefly joined a coalition government led by Zardari, but then went into opposition.

Analysts say that Pakistan‘s political conflict will have far-reaching consequences for the country’s fragile democratic process and could directly affect the government’s agenda to fight Taliban fighters in tribal areas and in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP).

PML-N acted in haste after SC decision, says Sherry


Saturday, February 28, 2009

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership has adopted a hasty approach by staging street riots, Information Minister Sherry Rehman said on Friday.

She told a private TV channel the PML-N should have called upon President Asif Ali Zardari or Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to seek a way out. She said it was unfortunate that Nawaz was singling out one person, adding it was folly to separate President Zardari from the rest of federation. “He is the symbol of federation, he is also the co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), we all, including the premier, are united behind all decisions,” she said.

This is not the time to burn tyres and media vans, and other such actions, she said, adding the PML-N leadership should have waited for the reaction of the federal government before holding any press conferences. Unfortunately, she said, they resorted to statements, political points, and tyre burning – actions that the PPP did not indulge in even when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated.

According to Sherry, the PML-N leadership is not pursuing moderation or democratic politics. She said the PPP did not want to create an atmosphere of democratic instability and unrest in the country, saying it wanted the federation to move towards building and strengthening of democratic institutions.

There will be a democratic government in Punjab and if they have majority, they are welcome, the minister added.

Ban on Sharif sparks Pakistan riots

The Australian

27 février 2009

PAKISTAN plunged into a fresh political crisis amid nationwide demonstrations yesterday at a Supreme Court decision barring popular opposition leader Nawaz Sharif and his brother from holding elected office.

President and political rival Asif Ali Zardari suspended the provincial parliament and imposed executive rule in the Sharif brothers’ home state of PunjabPakistan‘s most populous state and its traditional power centre — in an attempt to contain anticipated large-scale protests by the country’s legal fraternity.

But the move failed to suppress widespread anger at the court decision, which was criticised in many quarters as politically motivated.

The court ruling threatens to further destabilise an already vulnerable civilian Government struggling to maintain control of the country in the face of a rising militant insurgency within its borders and a near-bankrupt economy.

Pakistan‘s share market fell 5 per cent at the close of trade and showed no sign of recovery.

The unrest will trigger concern in Washington, which needs stable government in Pakistan to help combat al-Qa’ida and Taliban militants using its territory as a base from which to launch attacks on coalition troops in Afghanistan.

Many analysts and foreign diplomats are warning that the country faces a calamitous slide into the sort of political infighting and instability that led to a military takeover by former general Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

« The Sharifs have been thrown out of politics, and they are going to react, » prominent political commentator Shafqat Mahmood said.

« In the next three to six months, the political order will become very shaky. »

The long-awaited Supreme Court decision was the result of an appeal against a ruling barring two-time prime minister Mr Sharif from contesting elections over his conviction on charges of hijacking Mr Musharraf’s aircraft to try and forestall the coup.

It was also considering allegations of irregularities in his brother’s election to provincial parliament.

Punjab is controlled by Mr Sharif’s PML (N) party, and until yesterday Shahbaz Sharif was Punjab‘s chief minister.

Analysts said the Government’s actions against the Sharifs were aimed at weakening their hold on Punjab — a theory bolstered by recent talks aimed at an alliance between Mr Zadari’s ruling Pakistan People’s Party and another Punjab-based opposition party, PML (Q).

Mr Sharif reacted angrily to the decision, calling for Pakistanis to « rise against this unconstitutional decision and this nefarious act of Zardari ». He said he opposed violence but added: « If the people want to show their anger, who can stop them? »

While the Government urged PML (N) to « control its supporters for the sake of democracy », thousands of protestors yesterday answered the Sharifs’ call, staging fiery demonstrations.

Mr Sharif also called for people to join a massive lawyers’ march planned for early next month to demand the reinstatement of more than 70 judges sacked by Mr Musharraf in 2007 for alleged misconduct.

The move sparked widespread protests that led to Mr Musharraf imposing a state of emergency in late 2007 and, eventually, to his downfall in August last year.

While the Sharifs command popular support in Punjab, the degree of instability in coming weeks will depend on how much support they can muster in Pakistan‘s three other states.

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~ par Alain Bertho sur 28 février 2009.

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