Pakistani courts to politicians: You can’t leave the country

posted at 3:25 pm on December 18, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When a country depends on an ally to provide heavy lifting in a war, any hint of instability makes people understandably nervous.  That’s even more true in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, where the US has pressured Pakistan’s government to get more aggressive in attacking Taliban and al-Qaeda locations in the north.  Until now, the government has at least supplied some military pressure — but the most aggressive action has come from the courts, which reinstated corruption charges against thousands of politicians, including high-ranking allies of the US:

A sweeping Supreme Court decision that re-opened corruption cases against thousands of politicians, including President Asif Ali Zardari, reverberated through the government Friday, as key ministers were barred from leaving the country and ordered to appear before the courts in the coming weeks.

Among those immediately affected were the interior minister, Rehman Malik, who is considered particularly close to the United States, and the Defense Minister, Ahmed Mukhtar, raising concerns about how effectively the Zardari government, under pressure from a violent Islamic insurgency, could continue to function.

The two men were among 247 officials, also including placed on what is known as an exit control list, barring them from leaving Pakistan, a measure Pakistan authorities often use to ensure those under criminal investigation do not abscond.

At least 52 politicians, also including Salman Farooki, the chief of staff to Mr. Zardari, who were called to appear before corruption courts, according to the National Accountability Bureau, the anti-corruption unit that was ordered by the Supreme Court Wednesday to act expeditiously in re-opening the cases.

The man at the heart of this decision is Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, who got fired by Pervez Musharraf and whose termination set off a popular effort to push Musharraf out of power and restore the judiciary.  Chaudhry overturned Musharraf’s grant of immunity, which also applied to Musharraf himself, which the former dictator had granted as a means to allow most politicians to return to politics.  Corruption has been rampant in Pakistan, but anti-corruption prosecutions have been corrupted by political vendettas as well.

Zardari himself cannot be prosecuted, as his office grants him immunity.  However, his political opponents want him to resign and face the charges as well as dismiss those in his government in the same position.  Zardari has thus far refused to do so, pitting him against those less sympathetic to the West and more sympathetic to the Taliban and their allies.

That may also create problems with the Pakistani Army.  They have not been shy about seizing power when they sense weakness in the civilian government, and they’re already unhappy with Zardari.  They find him too conciliatory towards Pakistan’s traditional enemy India, and ironically resent his attempt to reform the intelligence services by appointing a civilian to run it.  If Pakistan turns into a mess, then the army will likely seize power — and that will probably spell an end to most of the cooperation between Washington and Islamabad.


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Destabilize? DE-stabilize?

You keep using that word…

mojo on December 18, 2009 at 3:27 PM

If Pakistan turns into a mess, then the army will likely seize power — and that will probably spell an end to most of the cooperation between Washington and Islamabad.

Whew! Good thing we have a competent, decisive leader in the WH now.

Ok, enough yakking, back to work on that bunker in my back yard…

AUINSC on December 18, 2009 at 3:27 PM

“If Pakistan turns into a mess,” should be written “If Pakistan turns messier than it already is,”

WashJeff on December 18, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Maybe the US Supremes could force Hussein to stay OUT of this country.

leftnomore on December 18, 2009 at 3:33 PM

Truly amazing how some groups of people are unable to form a civil society.

WashJeff on December 18, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Thankfully we have a strong and powerful leader in Washington to deal with whatever may come. And thank G_d for our awesome Secretary of State who has proven that smart power…

Yeah, we’re screwed.

myrenovations on December 18, 2009 at 3:36 PM

If Pakistan turns into a mess, then the army will likely seize power — and that will probably spell an end to most of the cooperation between Washington and Islamabad.

That should be too bad for the city of Islamabad and such portions of the Pakistani military we think prudent to burn to powder.

But better that New York burn at noon, than we cede moral authority by kicking the ass of our declared enemies. Or something. Hey, who’s gonna be on “Dancing with the Stars” next round?

Chris_Balsz on December 18, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Bush?

txag92 on December 18, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Wow, Pokeestan has almost as many corrupt politicians as the demonrat party.

farright on December 18, 2009 at 3:40 PM

Pakistani courts to politicians: You can’t leave the country

If our courts said the same thing to our jet setting leeches on the public dime, it would save us billions.

MaiDee on December 18, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Word has it that Attorney General Eric Holder is on his way to represent those accused…

Seven Percent Solution on December 18, 2009 at 3:43 PM

HALLIBURTON!@!

Good Lt on December 18, 2009 at 3:43 PM

Corrupt government? Well Barry and Company should fit right in.

GarandFan on December 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM

If a coup happens, with Obama still insist on the Great Overland Invasion of Pah-kee-ston?

Or will he use it as an excuse to pull out of Afghanistan?

teke184 on December 18, 2009 at 3:44 PM

I could try saying something cutesie about Pakistan, but it would sound contrived and forced.

I’m just not all that into Pok-eee-stahn. If they didn’t have nukes, I wouldn’t care at all.

BobMbx on December 18, 2009 at 3:45 PM

Zardari has thus far refused to do so, pitting him against those less sympathetic to the West and more sympathetic to the Taliban and their allies.

That may also create problems with the Pakistani Army. They have not been shy about seizing power when they sense weakness in the civilian government, and they’re already unhappy with Zardari. They find him too conciliatory towards Pakistan’s traditional enemy India, and ironically resent his attempt to reform the intelligence services by appointing a civilian to run it. If Pakistan turns into a mess, then the army will likely seize power — and that will probably spell an end to most of the cooperation between Washington and Islamabad.

I’ve noticed recent headlines regarding the Pakistani Army harassing US diplomats already.

maverick muse on December 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Wouldn’t it be better if corrupt officials were forced to leave the country? [There would go most of the dems.]

docdave on December 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence services are mounting what American officials here describe as a campaign to harass American diplomats, fraying relations at a critical moment when the Obama administration is demanding more help to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
The campaign includes the refusal to extend or approve visas for more than 100 American officials and the frequent searches of American diplomatic vehicles in major cities, said an American official briefed on the cases.

The problems affected military attachés, C.I.A. officers, development experts, junior level diplomats and others, a senior American diplomat said. As a result, some American aid programs to Pakistan, which President Obama has called a critical ally, are “grinding to a halt,” the diplomat said.

American helicopters used by Pakistan to fight militants can no longer be serviced because visas for 14 American mechanics have not been approved, the diplomat said. Reimbursements to Pakistan of nearly $1 billion a year for its counterterrorism operations were suspended because embassy accountants had to leave the country.

“There’s an incredible disconnect between what they want of us and the fact we can’t get the visas,” the diplomat said.

Pakistani officials acknowledged the situation, but said the menacing atmosphere resulted from American arrogance and provocations, like taking photographs in sensitive areas, and a lack of understanding of how divided Pakistanis were about the alliance with the United States.

This was from American Thinker yesterday- Rick Moran- and he is quoting a NY Times article.

Trials for officials who worked with the US and harrassment of US officials by the Pakistani military and intelligence services. Time is running out to take care of Quetta if we must.

journeyintothewhirlwind on December 18, 2009 at 3:46 PM

I guess that Barry the Great didn’t consider this during his months of dithering. Who would have thought that telegraphing withdrawal might cause problems? Solid B+ my a$$.

farright on December 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Well, there is always hope this ends better than that little problem in 1979.

Skandia Recluse on December 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM

It’s 3am and I hear a phone starting to ring

F15Mech on December 18, 2009 at 3:54 PM

OT: Why does MSNBC have a breaking news banner that says “US, China and India reach “meaningful agreement” at climate summit”?

milwife88 on December 18, 2009 at 3:55 PM

All of this happened because Palin lied about the visor, and cut her vacation short? Figures. The left is right. She’s stupid for letting this happen.

Sincerely…a troll.

capejasmine on December 18, 2009 at 3:56 PM

Truly amazing how some groups of people are unable to form a civil society.

WashJeff on December 18, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Such a testament to the true ‘beauty’ that Islam has to offer.
I really feel for the people over there who want a normal life.
But honestly, sometimes I think we just need to abandon all these nutcase countries.
And when we do, we should 1st take away their nasty toys.
Then they can fend for themselves by forming a republic, a democracy, or stay in their festering little hell holes for another thousand years.

Badger40 on December 18, 2009 at 3:59 PM

They find him too conciliatory towards Pakistan’s traditional enemy India

Pakistan’s hard-on hate towards India is just too rich.

Pakistan got its independence nearly a century ago, and they still can’t mentally “cooperate” in a neutral fashion with their non-Islamic neighbor from whose identity Pakistan emerged. Twisted. The Pakistani weren’t even the Ottoman dynastic power that Great Britain removed from India during the colonial era. It isn’t as if Pakistanis have a legitimate sense of “right” to possess the region of India. They got the region they lived in as the majority, and India lost the region they lived in as the minority. There’s what appears to be a genetic flaw in the ability of Pakistanis, as they prefer the irrational to the rational, a shared trait with the Palestinians. And Britain did the world no favor by arbitrarily carving out MidEastern maps that infuriate the indigenous populations to this day. As we witness, there’s no worse problem to civility than a festering Muslim excusing terrorism as jihad.

maverick muse on December 18, 2009 at 4:00 PM

I’ll bet BO is going to send off a scathing letter soon….

Badger40 on December 18, 2009 at 4:01 PM

But but umm Hussain has visited Pakistan with his friend and he knows so much about foreign policy and and…
oh chute

macncheez on December 18, 2009 at 4:01 PM

The world wants to know, exactly what was young Barry doing traveling into MidEastern regions the President had banned?

Deals made, now broken. Gadaffi scoffed at anyone who trusted Obama’s potus campaign “Egyptian Sale” laundry list of promises made to get elected. And according to Gadaffi, it will be over revelations of MidEastern nuclear power and banking that Obama’s administration will abruptly conclude.

maverick muse on December 18, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Well, there is always hope this ends better than that little problem in 1979.

Skandia Recluse on December 18, 2009 at 3:47 PM

As if the comparative Carter I and II administrations weren’t bad enough, THIS time Congress is insane.

maverick muse on December 18, 2009 at 4:13 PM

Bush?

txag92 on December 18, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Yup.

ReformedAndDangerous on December 18, 2009 at 4:27 PM

IF Pakistan turns into a mess?
You have got to be kidding!

elclynn on December 18, 2009 at 4:30 PM

How sweet and ironic that Musharref has been proven right about the idiot judges on the Supreme Court. Bush was soo wrong about jumping on the bandwagon to depose Musharref. He was no angel but the clowns they have in now are just more disappointing hopeychangey idiots who unfortunately are in custody of scores of nukes.

eaglewingz08 on December 18, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Who was the genius that thought the Paki Muslims were a better choice in the area as friends than India?

Can’t have sympathy for idiots forever.

BL@KBIRD on December 18, 2009 at 6:30 PM

I KNOW I KNOW!!! ME ME ME!!!!

I KNOW THE SOLUTION!!!

GIVE THEM MORE USA MONEY! That’s the snake oil that has worked for the last ten years.

needless to say /sarc

ThackerAgency on December 18, 2009 at 7:49 PM

How sweet and ironic that Musharref has been proven right about the idiot judges on the Supreme Court.

you misunderstand. Musharref has not been proven right. Musharraf was corrupt as anyone. He cooperated because we paid him and he used that money to pay cronies to keep him in power. The Supreme Court said he couldn’t do that. . . and they were right.

The guy Zardari fled the country before because of corruption. He has never faced justice for it. Just because he was elected doesn’t mean he’s now exhonorated. This board complains about what’s his name rapist in Switzerland. . . but it’s OK for corrupt politicians in Pakistan to not have to face judiciary.

It’s not that Mushy was ‘right’. It’s that Zardari was an incredibly BAD choice. Zardari should be in jail from prior corruption charges.

ThackerAgency on December 18, 2009 at 7:53 PM

Zardari should be in jail from prior corruption charges.

ThackerAgency on December 18, 2009 at 7:53 PM

There is a reason Mr 10% is known as a”ladykiller” ;-)

macncheez on December 18, 2009 at 9:10 PM