Morning Brief: New trouble for Pakistan

Top Story Pakistan finds itself in a fresh political crisis after the country’s supreme court barred opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office. Sharif was disqualified because of a criminal charge connected to his efforts to prevent a coup by former leader Pervez Musharraf in 1999. The court also barred Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, the ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
588187_090226_pakistan5.jpg
588187_090226_pakistan5.jpg

Top Story

Pakistan finds itself in a fresh political crisis after the country's supreme court barred opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office. Sharif was disqualified because of a criminal charge connected to his efforts to prevent a coup by former leader Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

The court also barred Sharif's brother Shahbaz, the chief minister for Punjab. After the decision, Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari dismissed Punjab's state government and put it under executive rule. The court's decision is widely seen as being carried out at the behest of Zardari.

Top Story

Pakistan finds itself in a fresh political crisis after the country’s supreme court barred opposition leader Nawaz Sharif from holding elected office. Sharif was disqualified because of a criminal charge connected to his efforts to prevent a coup by former leader Pervez Musharraf in 1999.

The court also barred Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, the chief minister for Punjab. After the decision, Prime Minister Asif Ali Zardari dismissed Punjab’s state government and put it under executive rule. The court’s decision is widely seen as being carried out at the behest of Zardari.

Thousands of supporters of Sharif’s Pakistani Muslim League-Nawaz marched throughout the country today, chanting anti-government slogans and tearing down pictures of Zardari. The government has put paramilitaries and high alert and arrested 30 PML-N politicians.

The ongoing turmoil is likely to distract from efforts to control the Islamist insurgency in Pakistan’s frontier regions. Pakistan’s foreign minister vowed yesterday that al Qaeda activity in the country’s Swat Valley would not be tolerated despite a recent peace agreement with local Taliban militants.

Americas

President Barack Obama releases his first budget today. It sets aside $250 billion in additional aid to banks.

Mexico is deploying extra troops to violence-wracked Ciudad Juarez.

Enforcement cuts in Obama’s budget will make it easier for Cuban-Americans to get away with illegally traveling to Cuba.

Middle East

Barack Obama’s Iraq withdrawal plan would leave some combat units in place past summer 2010. 

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah have agreed to release each other’s loyalists from imprisonment ahead of upcoming peace talks.

Lebanon has released three suspects held for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Asia and Pacific

Bangladesh has deployed tanks to put down a mutiny by border guards.

A new U.S. State Department report slams China on human rights.

PM Kevin Rudd was forced to defend his government’s record on helping Australia’s Aborigines.

Africa

Zimbabwe has asked regional governments for $2 billion in aid.

Malawi’s former president has been arrested for stealing $11 million in foreign aid.

Thousands have fled fighting between rival groups in southern Ethiopia.

Europe

Latvia’s president chose the country’s former finance minister as the new prime minister after the government collapsed last week.

A verdict is expected today in the trial of six Serbian war crimes defendants.

A high-ranking Estonian official was convicted of passing secrets to Russia.

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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