ISLAMABAD: As the notification about deployment of troops for the federal capital’s security went into effect on Friday, the army said it was making no fresh deployment in Islamabad.
“No additional troops are being deployed in Islamabad other than the forces placed in the capital on June 15 for security duties at the time of the launch of the Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asim Bajwa told Dawn.
Also read: Army deployed in Islamabad from today
Last week, the interior ministry had said it was requisitioning army in the capital for three months in aid of civil power under Article 245 of the Constitution.
The military spokesman insisted that the notification had come late and the deployment had been in place since June 15.
A military source put the number of troops stationed in the capital for security duties at about 350.
But the city administration told reporters that five army companies -- over 500 soldiers -- had been deployed.
The troops are posted at the airport, Diplomatic Enclave, Presidency, Prime Minister House, Margalla Hills and sensitive installations.
The soldiers, a police official said, could also man the city’s entry points and perform patrolling duty.
An administration official said the troops would support the local law-enforcement agencies and would be at the disposal of the district magistrate.
On the other hand, the decision to deploy army in Islamabad has been criticised by opposition parties who see it as a “political blunder”.
The move is believed to have been motivated by the rallies to be staged by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and may be by some other political parties in the city on Aug 14. The Tehreek’s will be the latest event in its protest drive against alleged rigging in last year’s general elections.
But, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar has rejected the perception and said that the deployment is not being done to block the PTI’s march.
He also said that the decision to invoke Article 245 had been taken before the Waziristan operation was launched, but didn’t say that the troops were already in the city.
Meanwhile, the notification of the deployment has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court. The petition by the District Bar Association has been admitted for hearing from Aug 6.
Published in Dawn, Aug 2nd , 2014