Tags: Pakistan | coup | rumors | politics

Pakistan Denies Coup Reports as Political Crisis Deepens

Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 10:27 PM

Pakistan's government on Friday dismissed rumours of a coup in the country as the fallout from a supreme court verdict continued to rock President Asif Ali Zardari's government.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan's top anti-corruption agency, said it was reopening hundreds of cases after the court quashed a legal amnesty introduced by the former president Pervez Musharraf two years ago.

Ghazni Khan, the agency's spokesman, said it had asked the interior ministry to put 248 people on the exit control list, preventing them from leaving the country.

Khan did not give the names, but local TV stations, citing official sources, said the interior minister, Rehman Malik, was among them. Malik, who is usually voluble in front of the media, refused to comment on the case.

The agency also said it was reviving arrest warrants in some cases and freezing assets. The court ruling that struck down the corruption amnesty on Wednesday triggered turmoil in Pakistan's political system.

Opposition politicians are clamouring for Zardari's resignation, but he has insisted he will not go. As the president, he enjoys immunity from prosecution.

As temperatures rose, Zardari's spokesman Farhatullah Babar this morning ruled out suggestions of a return to military government. "There is no coup," he said.

Rivals have said Zardari's moral authority has been irretrievably damaged. "He should quit this office in his own interest as well as in the interest of his party and the system," Khwaja Asif, of the opposition Pakistan Muslim League, said.

Analysts said the country was moving into uncharted territory. "It's chaos out there. Nobody knows what's going on. Everyone is trying to work out the ramifications of the court order," said Cyril Almeida, a columnist at the Dawn paper.

As the political turmoil deepened, a missile strike in the tribal belt underscored the grave militancy problem facing the country.

According to local officials, up to five US drones fired 10 missiles at a house in north Waziristan, raising speculation that a senior al-Qaida figure was being targeted. At least 12 people were killed.

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Pakistan's government on Friday dismissed rumours of a coup in the country as the fallout from a supreme court verdict continued to rock President Asif Ali Zardari's government.
Pakistan,coup,rumors,politics
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2009-27-17
Thursday, 17 Dec 2009 10:27 PM
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