COAS summons corps commander meeting

Published August 10, 2014
A meeting of the corps commander in progress.  — File photo by Online
A meeting of the corps commander in progress. — File photo by Online

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif summoned a meeting of the corps commanders on Monday at the General Headquarters to discuss the overall security situation in the country and the ongoing Zarb-Azb operation against militants in North Waziristan.

"Corps commanders conference will be held tomorrow at GHQ," a one-line statement issued by an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson said.

The meeting will be chaired by Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and takes places after a gap of two months.

Sources said important matters related to internal security and military operational matters would come under consideration during the meeting.

They added that General Raheel Sharif would take the commanders into confidence over feedback received from the political leadership during the national security conference held at the Prime Minister's House on Saturday.

The meeting will be held at a time when the government is under immense pressure to step down over alleged corruption and election rigging. Speculations are rife in the country about an impending political change.

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Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Qadri is leading demonstrations denouncing the death of his supporters in clashes with the police in June.

A separate protest, led by opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, is planned for the capital on August 14 to protest alleged election irregularities. Khan has also called for the government to go.

The planned demonstrations have unnerved Sharif's fledgling civilian government. The Punjab government has blocked roads in Model Town that lead to the Minhajul Quran secretariat, and many parts of Islamabad have been cut off by containers and other barriers.

Some members of the ruling party fear the protesters may be getting support from elements in the powerful military, which has had a series of disagreements with the government. The military however denies meddling in politics.

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Observers and analysts speculate that if the ongoing political crisis persists, the army may intervene if unrest ensues during these demonstrations.

As a result of the government imposing Article 245 of the Constitution, additional troops are reportedly in place for the capital's security.

A military source last week 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.

PML-N to blame if army intervenes: Imran

While the PTI has said repeatedly stated that it is opposed to any undemocratic transition, it simultaneously maintains that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be responsible if the military steps in.

“If the army steps in, it will be because of you! The high-handed measures (that the government) is taking, I can tell you with confidence: there is no question that they can stop the Azadi March,” Imran stated in a press conference held in Islamabad two days ago.

Message from the US

In his conversations with political and military leaderships, Ambassador Olson has said last week that the US would not take any position if a change in the government comes through constitutional means. He was quoted as having said that the test has been the country’s Constitution and that “Constitutional change would be perfectly legitimate”.

The second part of the American message being delivered to the army and the politicians is that a military coup would be unacceptable and could trigger suspension of assistance.



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