Pakistan’s Supreme Court moved this week to indict Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on contempt of court charges. Gilani has said he will comply with the court’s final decision in the case. The charge stems from a disagreement over whether President Asif Ali Zardari can be tried for corruption in a case related to kickbacks he and his wife, the late Benazir Bhutto, allegedly received from a Swiss company in the 1990s. Gilani has so far refused to reopen the case against Zardari, citing presidential immunity.
This case against Zardari fits in with the Pakistani military leadership’s soft coup strategy—a tactic we noted recently in connection with the so-called Memogate scandal.
What really makes the civil-military clash dangerous is the fact that serious social problems are going unaddressed while Pakistani elites bicker about who should rule. Thousands, for instance, recently took to the streets in Rawalpindi, carrying banners in support of banned Islamist parties and portraits of Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer, as well as chanting slogans calling for all Ahmadis, a minority religious group, to leave Pakistan. Meanwhile, militants are launching attacks on the army in the lawless north.
A corrupt civilian government, a distracted judiciary, a misguided and stubborn military—no one seems ready to tackle Pakistan’s real problems and, sadly, that is nothing new.