Pakistan Gives in to Protesters, Agrees to Early Elections

Parliament Will Dissolve by March 16, Elections by Mid-April

by Jason Ditz, January 17, 2013

Just one day after top Pakistani officials ruled out ever giving in to the “unconstitutional” demands of tens of thousands of protesters in Islamabad, the government has announced a deal in which it has effectively given the protesters everything they demanded.

Under the deal, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has agreed to dissolve parliament no later than March 16, setting the stage for elections within 30 days of its dissolution. Democratic reforms have been agreed to, and the government will negotiate with protest leaders on the makeup of the election commission beforehand.

The agreement also includes a deal for protest leaders to pick a “caretaker prime minister” to replace Raja Ashraf, who the Supreme Court has ordered arrested for his role in a major corruption scandal, and a pledge by the government not to take any revenge against anyone involved in the demonstrations.

The protests have ended with the agreement to the deal, and Muslim Cleric Tahir ul-Qadri, the main organizer, has left Islamabad, urging celebrating remnants of the rallies to “go home as peacefully as you came here.”

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