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Pakistan court orders PM arrest as protesters defiant

Published on Jan 16, 2013 12:55 AM
Members of the civil society hold placards during a protest against the Supreme Court decision to arrest Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Lahore on Jan 15, 2013. --PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan's top judge Tuesday ordered the arrest of the prime minister over graft allegations, threatening to worsen turmoil as thousands of protesters demanded the government step down.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry ordered officials to arrest 16 people accused of corruption in power generation projects in 2010, including Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

The Supreme Court order came as protesters led by populist cleric Tahir-ul Qadri massed near parliament on the third day of a march, calling for the immediate dissolution of the government.

A general election is due to be held by mid-May. But Mr Qadri wants a caretaker government set up immediately, in consultation with the military and the judiciary, to implement key reforms before the polls are held.

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