London steps into Pakistani political fray

Jan. 16, 2013 at 10:06 AM
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LONDON, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- London said a government in Islamabad that's accountable to its people and appointed according to the rule of law is the best opportunity for the country.

The Supreme Court in Pakistan ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and more than a dozen others Tuesday. The ruling stems from allegations that Ashraf received kickbacks during his previous tenure as water and power minister, reported CNN.

Ashraf became prime minister last year after a court dismissed his predecessor, Yousaf Raza Gilani, following the reopening of graft cases.

The British government issued a statement expressing it support for democratic principles in Islamabad.

"The U.K. strongly supports democracy in Pakistan," the statement read. "Representative, accountable government that delivers for the people, and is chosen according to constitutional processes, is in the best interests of Pakistan."

The political flare-up comes as the country prepares for March elections, when the term for the civilian government of Ashraf and President Asif Ali Zardari ends.

Protesters this week rallied in support of cleric Tahirul Qadri, who called on the government to step down. He said he wanted a caretaker government to bring about electoral reform before March elections.

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