Tensions rise in Pakistan, in capital and north of country

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – A series of events in Pakistan this week underscore the growing power struggles that are taking a toll in the months before national elections. The Supreme Court Tuesday ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on charges of corruption, but aides say the court is allied with the military against the elected civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari. The government and the court faced off last summer over Zardari’s earlier proposal for the post of prime minister.

The court’s announcement came as thousands marched in the capital, Islamabad, answering a call by Muslim cleric Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, who is said by the government to be working with the military.

In the Khyber Agency area in the northwest of the country, villagers have taken the unusual step of dumping the bodies of 14 people they say were killed by Pakistan’s military in front of government offices in Peshawar, reports the BBC: “The demonstrators also called on the government to stop military operations in their area, withdraw a five-year-old curfew and compensate victims.”

Links to other sites: BBC, NY TimesReuters