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Channel 4 News | Jan 17
As Pakistan's prime minister resists an order for his arrest, foreign affairs correspondent Jonathan Rugman meets Tahir ul-Qadri, the cleric who ha...
This week the Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani. But was Gilani's dismissal justified, or was he just caught in the crossfire in a power struggle between the Supreme Court's Chief Justice and Gilani's boss, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari? Here's our contributor Wajahat Khan to tell us more about the reaction in Pakistan's social media.
In a country that is vital for the American effort next door in Afghanistan, political turmoil continues. Pakistan's Supreme Court has dismissed the country's prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, the highest elected official in the country, for contempt charges. The latest verdict ups the ante in the years-long confrontation between the country's top judges and the government and has effectively dismantled the country's cabinet as well. Meanwhile, the debate on social media rages on and, as always, is a step ahead of the curve.
It quickly became a partisan battle. Shehryar Taseer, the scion of a liberal political dynasty aligned with Gilani, slammed the decision as a "judicial coup against [a] democratically elected government."
Only to be countered by one of the country's most conservative political leaders, Munawar Hassan of the Party of Islam. Hassan warned against any plotting against the Supreme Court and demanded that "Gilani should leave office immediately."
Key opinion makers, like Abbas Nasir, a former editor of a major newspaper, tweeted startling bottom lines, like this one. Nasir charged the court, in effect, told Gilani:
"We represent the will of the people, not you."
And Omar Quraishi, an op-ed editor, tweeted the title of what would become the next day's widely retweeted editorial in his publication, the Express Tribune.
But the debate over whether an elected prime minister could be dismissed by judges and not voters kept getting more energetic.
Here, investigative journalist Umar Cheema tweeted another thunderbolt about the verdict: that Pakistan's entire cabinet of ministers had also been relieved of their duties, essentially making the entire country leaderless.
But some well-heeled and perhaps less serious twitterati, in this case the fashion editor of a major newspaper, found the situation amusing. Wow, she tweeted, wondering what the big deal is, considering the PM was never qualified to be disqualified in the first place!
Soothsayers predicted doomsday. This post says:
"Now the entire country is going to blow up. So stock up on fuel and food."
It was advice worth retweeting, as riots due to a chronic energy shortage are hitting the country hard.
The twitter debates brought forward even some of the country's more reserved tweeps. In this case, the powerful media heiress Rameeza Nizami had a naughty take on the verdict, summing it up as:
"Wham, bam, thank you, Prime Minister".
But the bottom line on social media during this crisis, yet another one of the multiple crises Pakistan faces in its complicated polity, was that the country keeps rolling, or tweeting, on as it tries to make sense of the various issues it faces. The new prime minister designate, when he takes over this country, will probably not have a Twitter account, but the way the debate rages on here, he will probably need one. @newpakistanpm is a currently available handle! For LinkAsia, from Islamabad, this is Waj Khan.
This news will give Pakistan's social media something to chew on: the governing party's nominee for prime minister, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, is under an arrest warrant. The warrant is linked to imports of an illegal drug while Shahabuddin was health minister. Experts told the BBC that even if he were arrested, he could still serve as prime minister if Pakistan's parliament approves the nomination.