Supreme Court orders Pakistan PM's arrest

Islamabad, Jan 15 (IANS) Pakistan's Supreme Court Tuesday directed the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on graft charges.

The apex court ordered the prime minister's arrest along with 16 other accused during a hearing in the Rental Power Plants case. It said the arrests should take place by Wednesday afternoon, Geo News reported.

Earlier Tuesday, the apex court said Pakistan's general elections, due by mid-March, will be held on time, and the Election Commission should be ready for it.

Hearing a case related to reforms in the election process, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said the elections cannot be delayed, Geo News reported.

Justice Chaudhry remarked that the elections would be held on time no matter what. No compromise would be acceptable, he added.

In a separate development, Pakistani-born Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri along with a large number of supporters converged near parliament Tuesday, seeking its dissolution and a corruption-free Pakistan.

While addressing his followers Monday night, Tehreek-e-Minhajul Quran leader Qadri had asked the government to dissolve the national and provincial assemblies voluntarily by 11.00 a.m. Tuesday or the people would start taking decisions of their own.

Qadri asked his followers to camp out overnight in Islamabad, despite chilly temperatures and advance towards parliament.

On Tuesday, police used teargas and fired shots in the air to disperse Qadri's followers.

Gunshots were heard and some demonstrators pelted stones at security forces, as Qadri led a two-day protest 'long march' into Islamabad, seeking a peaceful "revolution" and the dissolution of parliament, Geo News reported.

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