ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani officer investigating a corruption case against the prime minister was found dead in the country’s capital Friday. It was not clear if it was a suicide or murder, but police said the act was likely a suicide.
The body of Kamran Faisal was found hanging from a ceiling fan in his room at a government dorm in Islamabad, according to senior police officer Bani Yamin. “Apparently it seems he committed suicide, but we are sending his body for autopsy to determine the cause of death,” Yamin said.
Faisal’s death came days after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Premier Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and 15 others in connection with an old corruption case that the officer was investigating.
The prime minister was implicated in the case when he was minister of water and power. At the time, he oversaw the import of short-term power stations that cost the government millions of dollars but produced little energy.
Ashraf has denied the charges against him.
Faisal and another investigating officer of the National Accountability Bureau, Asghar Ali, played a main role in the graft probe until they were removed from the investigation weeks ago by Fasih Bokhari, the bureau chairman who was allegedly unhappy with their performance.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court Tuesday asked the NAB to arrest Ashraf and 15 others involved in the case. But Bokhari, refused, saying he does not have sufficient evidence to arrest the prime minister.
The refusal was seen as the latest clash between the government and the country’s top court and has intensified the sense of political crisis in Pakistan.
Bokhari said he needed more time to determine whether the premier should be arrested. The top court Thursday adjourned the hearing in the case for next Wednesday.
Meanwhile a spokesman for a cleric who has been pushing for electoral reforms in Pakistan and calling for the elimination of corruption, said Friday the preacher will resort to street protests again if the government does not abide by an agreement that eased a political crisis.
Mohammad Tahirul Qadri, who has a history of ties with the military, reached a deal with Pakistan’s ruling coalition Thursday that will give his party some say over the formation of a caretaker government ahead of elections this spring. Qadri’s party may also participate in the elections.
The cleric’s reappearance on Pakistan’s political stage a few weeks ago after years of living in Canada, and his calls for the military to play a role in forming an interim administration, has raised speculation he may be backed by the country’s powerful army.
Qadri and the military deny this.
The preacher, who led four days of street protests in the heart of the capital aimed at forcing the government to resign, will keep pushing for political reforms and a halt to corruption, the spokesman said.
“We will ensure implementation of the agreement with full letter and spirit,” Qazir Faizul Islam, secretary of information for Qadri’s charity, told Reuters.
“If the government tries to deviate, we will force them to follow through the power of the people and media.”
Aside from giving Qadri a voice in who leads the caretaker administration, the government also agreed to dissolve parliament before a scheduled date of March 16, although it did not specify a date.
It also said elections would be held within 90 days of the dissolution and electoral reforms would continue to be discussed. An announcement of an election date could come during a parliament session Monday.
“After signing the agreement for electoral reforms, we are part of the electoral process. We might take part in elections,” said Islam, adding however that Qadri had no ambitions to become prime minister.
But the focus now seems to be on the interim administration that will be formed after the dissolution of parliament and will oversee the elections.
A new political crisis could erupt if Qadri tries to promote candidates for caretaker prime minister seen to be sympathetic to the military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its history as an independent nation.
Any disagreements between Qadri and the government on electoral reforms could also bring fresh turmoil, distracting the state from a host of challenges, ranging from a Taliban insurgency to crippling power cuts to a fragile economy.
Sectarian violence has risen sharply.
Many businesses shut down Friday in Pakistan’s commercial capital and biggest city Karachi after the killing of a politician in a drive-by shooting, police said, which has raised fears of a fresh wave of sectarian violence.