Pakistan’s Islamic Group: Detaining Opposition Figures Adds Fuel To Fire
Clashes erupted on Friday between the Pakistani police and crowds, protesting at president Pervez Musharraf’s decision of firing the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, after which the security forces arrested opposition figures.
The police arrested Qazi Hussein Ahmed, the president of Pakistan’s main alliance of religious parties, Mutahiddah Majlis-i-Amal, and leader of the Islamic Group leader in Pakistan, after firing tear gases to disperse opposition leaders and figures who gathered to perform the Friday Prayer in front of the building of the Supreme Court and parliament .
A police force prevented about 200 judges, opposition leaders and MPs from reaching parliament after a crackdown in Islamabad and Lahore and Rawalpindi to prevent the opposition from participating in Friday demonstration.
A number of demonstrators crossed the barrier set up by the police around the parliament, chanting slogans call for toppling president Pervez Musharraf and confirming maintaining rallies to confront him.
For his part, Dr. Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, the foreign relations spokesman for the Islamic group told Ikhwanweb that Friday’s incidents, including arresting Qazi Hussein Ahmed and a number of Pakistani opposition figures are part of the repressive policy adopted by Pervez Musharraf and through which he wants to extend his authoritarian power over all Pakistani institutions.
Aziz pointed out that suspending the Supreme Court Chief Justice, Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry aims at eradicating opposition to Musharraf in the state institutions .
The Islamic Group’s spokesman added that arresting national opposition leaders and figures adds fuel to fire in the political arena; he said that there are many tribes that back the Islamic group and these autocratic decisions may spawn more violence and tensions in the Pakistani political which has been already tense since Pervez Musharraf assumed office.
Aziz pointed out that the US full support is behind the unjust exercises of Musharraf’s dictatorial regime.
Aziz demanded immediately releasing Qazi Hussein Ahmed and all other detainees.
It is worth mentioning that protests erupted last week after Musharraf suspended Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, sparking protests from all opposition powers nationwide.
Musharraf took his decision of dismissing the judge who assumed his post in 2005 although the five-member Supreme Court council is the only council allowed to take this decision.
Chief Justice Chaudhry stirred the Pakistani regime’s anger after he blocked plans to privatize a huge state-run steel company. Observers said that he took firm rulings in cases of missing persons who are reportedly held by the security forces.
Chaudhry case raised the anger among judges and opposition parties that accused the government of undermining the independence justice, months before the presidential and legislative elections scheduled later this year, and ahead of constitutional discussions over a possible reelection of Musharraf as a president by the current parliament before dissolving it.
Iftikhar Gilani, the Minister of Legal Affairs in the cabinet of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto visited Chaudhry in his house and said that the latter is ” a first degree prisoner”.
The weeklong rallies and protests staged by the Islamic parties and civil society institutions against sacking Chaudhry are the largest against president Musharraf’s rule, given that the media are outraged because of attempts to prevent them from reporting and commenting on this issue.
The government treatment with the issue raised doubts that Musharraf fears that the independent judge may block any measure that Musharraf may take to maintain his post as an army commander, a post that he must leave this year according to constitution.