- Interior minister says Pak Army’s help to secure Islamabad not connected to any rally, claims opponents making army’s role ’needlessly controversial’
- Nisar says Article 245 had been invoked 11 times during the past seven years, laments issue was being created only when army was called in by the incumbent government
Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Sunday that the decision to call for Pakistan Army’s assistance in maintaining law and order in the capital for three months under Article 245 of the Constitution had no link with “any political rally or party”.
Addressing a press conference in Punjab House in Islamabad, the interior minister claimed that anyone trying to link the government’s decision of calling in the army with any political party or political rally was actually engaging in political point-scoring and was making the army’s role “needlessly controversial” during a crucial time.
Nisar said that the political government and the military leadership have good relations while there is not any kind of threat to democracy as yet.
“There is nothing wrong to take the services of army to maintain law and order under the constitution,” he said adding that the civil administration will run the affairs of Islamabad as usual while the military will support the police and rangers to maintain law and order of the city during the ongoing circumstances.
Nisar said that the decision to call for the Army’s assistance in maintaining the law and order situation in the federal capital city had been taken before the initiation of the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan following a precedent set during the military operation of 2010.
“We can’t wait for an untoward incident to unfold before taking a necessary security measure,” the interior minister asserted. He said that the troops will secure the sensitive installations like airports and other important places during their stay in Islamabad. He said 350 troops have been requisitioned for 90 days under Anti Terrorism Act of 1997.
NOT THE FIRST TIME:
Lashing out at those criticising the government’s decision to invoke Article 245 of the Constitution, the federal interior minister said that the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) was not the first government to call for the military’s assistance and several other governments including the previous Pakistan People Party (PPP)-led coalition government had also sought the help of the army invoking the use of Article 245 of the Constitution.
He added that even though Article 245 of the Constitution had been invoked 11 times during the past seven years, an issue was created only when the army was called in for assistance by the incumbent government.
Indirectly criticising opposition leader Syed Khursheed Shah’s remarks, he said Sindh government also called Pak Army under Article 245 in the holy month of Muharram for maintaining peace.
“Article 245 is a clause of the Constitution, it is not a foreign law being imposed in the country,” he said.
Nisar went on to list democratic countries in the world where armies play a significant role to ensure security.
ON AZADI MARCH:
Moreover, Nisar said there was no harm in negotiations if Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri were interested to discuss their long march and dharna.
The minister also said that the Islamabad administration had not received any application from the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leadership to seek permission for any political gathering on August 14.
“After receiving the application from the PTI leadership to hold political gathering in Islamabad, the government will decide in this regard,” the minister said.
PTI is all set to take its “million man march” to Islamabad on August 14 over the issue of rigging in the 2013 general elections. Leaders of the party see the timing of the imposition of Article 245 in the capital as a bid to set the army in place for the rally – a political move that is far removed from the security reasons cited by the interior minister.
On Saturday, the PTI core committee had warned the government against invoking Article 245, arguing that using the army for political purposes was dangerous and if the decision was not reversed, the party reserved the right to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
The government is seeking to place the PTI’s Azadi March in direct confrontation with the army, which is a dangerous tactic and also a futile exercise because the party has always had a culture of peaceful protests and marches, the PTI reminded the government.
Responding to Nisar’s statements, PTI leader Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi questioned why the army was called in only to the federal capital city. He said there appeared to political motives behind the government’s move of invoking Article 245 of the Constitution.