ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said on Tuesday that there is no shame in calling in the Army to the capital. He said the civilian and military leadership had decided that military assistance would be extended to the civilian administration wherever required.

Nisar reiterated the government’s stance that imposition of Article 245 had no link with any political party, protest rally or other march. He said there was no other motive behind the move except to counter terrorism threats.

"Since the clause was added it was invoked 24 times since 2007 and the Parliament’s approval was not sought, no joint sessions were held nor were other political parties consulted in every case, at least not according to the records available with the interior ministry," the federal interior minister added.

He further it was unfortunate that the military had been used for political motives in the past, but he assured the Parliament that the incumbent government had no such intentions.

“If the opposition parties want to terminate the article 245 from the constitution than we are ready to sit together in the parliament for amendment in the constitution in this regard,” he said. The interior minister clarified that the decision to impose article 245 was discussed within the party, with the army leadership and constitutional experts.

High Court operations would continue even after implementation of Article 245, Nisar told the NA.

The interior minister added that the federal government had written to all four provincial governments informing them that the army could be deployed anywhere upon their request.

"Why shouldn't the government call for military support preemptively rather than reactively?" he questioned.

"All four provincial governments wrote to the federal government seeking the military’s help during Ashura last year. Why was that decision not challenged. Did it mean the provinces were handed over to the Army," Nisar asked the members of the Lower house of Parliament.

Questioning the motives of those criticising the government's decision, the federal interior minister said at the time the Army was called in Islamabad for three months, military personnel were already deputed at the Islamabad airport for security. He questioned why their presence was not questioned then, and why the decision to call the army is being challenged now.

He said, "Let August 14 remain Independence Day, every Pakistani should have the national flag. The day should unite the country's citizens rather than dividing them."

He welcomed any mediation efforts between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and said the government would extend all cooperation in this regard.

Opposition in NA chastises govt's move to call army

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Syed Khursheed Shah, said the government should not be worried by PTI's long march adding that his party would not support any move that could endanger democracy in the country.

Shah was addressing the National Assembly today as the speaker gave opposition members the opportunity to speak first during Tuesday’s session. The opportunity was taken by most opposition MNAs to criticise the government's move to call in the military to take control of Islamabad.

Shah said the PPP government had only invoked Article 245 of the Constitution in the Malakand division and that too after taking the Parliament into confidence.

He added that Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had invoked the said article and had summoned the army to aid the civil administration in Lahore in 1977 and had later regretted the decision.

The senior PPP leader said that the High Courts would be rendered incapacitated due to the government's move and had exposed the latter’s weakness.

Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Sahibzada Tariqullah said invoking Article 245 had exposed the government's weakness.

He added that the JI was prepared to make efforts for reconciliation between the government and PTI and even suggested the formation of a committee for this purpose.

Qaumi Watan Party (QWP) chairman Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao criticised both the government’s decision of calling in the army and PTI's call for a long march, saying that Independence Day celebrations should have been aimed at strengthening the country's unity.

He added that instead of protests or other celebrations, August 14 should have been spent with in those displaced in the wake of Operation Zarb-i-Azb.

Awami Muslim League (AML) president Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said the country had never witnessed true democracy in the past 65 years nor were the issues of the common man ever resolved. He said the government's decision to call in the military for assistance in the federal capital city had pushed the opposition to a point of no return.

Moreover, Awami National Party (ANP) MNA Ameer Haider Khan Hoti said that when the army was called in Malakand division, the Taliban had established strongholds in the area and it was being said that the militants had reached the footholds of Margalla Hills in Islamabad.

He said that the current situation in Islamabad did not warrant the calling in of the military adding that the government had taken the decision only after the PTI had announced its long march.

Leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Zia (PML-Z) Ijaz-ul-Haq said that Article 245 should not have been invoked by the government, adding that it should not be worried about Dr Tahirul Qadri or PTI.

Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) chairman Mahmood Khan Achakzai said he would not allow the sacrifices made for the country and Constitution rendered useless.

“I will fight against those jeopardising the country and Constitution as traitors and as going against the ideology of Pakistan,” he added.

He made these remarks while referring to a ‘friend from Canada’ and colleagues from the PTI.

Achakzai further said that the mandate of 200 million people was not a joke and could not be overrun by a mob of thousands.

He said the imposition of Article 245 had exposed the government’s weakness and added that D-Chowk area of the federal capital city was not a rally spot.

The PkMAP chief also suggested a resolution to condemn any move against democracy or the Constitution.

Earlier during the day, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that the army was called in the federal capital city to protect the properties of citizens and not for any political motives.

Speaking to reporters outside Parliament House, the defence minister said that neither his ministry nor anyone else had transgressed constitutional parameters.

He said civil-military tensions were created whenever constitutional parameters were transgressed but since these have not been violated there was no question of any rising tension.

The minister said that the government did not feel threatened by PTI’s long march and if the Parliament unanimously opposed the invocation of Article 245 then the government might consider the matter again.

He further said that the military would not be used to quell political protests, adding that political measures would be taken to counter political protests.



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