Army to be withdrawn from 3 provinces if Article 245 not invoked: Nisar

Updated December 24, 2014

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Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar speaks with media representatives during a news conference in Islamabad. – AFP/File
Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar speaks with media representatives during a news conference in Islamabad. – AFP/File
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif adressing the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House.  — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif adressing the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House. — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page

ISLAMABAD: Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Wednesday told the governments of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan that army troops stationed to assist security forces would be withdrawn from the provinces if requisitions were not made for deployment, under Article 245 of the Constitution.

Nisar was addressing a meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The meeting is aimed at building a national action plan to counter terrorism and extremism in the country.

“After the initiation of Zarb-i-Azb, the government realised that the police is neither equipped nor trained and would require time to tackle the current law and order crisis,” Nisar said.

The federal interior minister further added: “In order to deal with the reaction of the operation, the army chief has told the government that the military was willing to help and support the federal and provincial administrations but for that the requisition of the army needs to be made under Article 245 of the Constitution.”

He said that 10,000 army personnel were already deployed in all four provinces to assist provincial security forces and added that the deployment "exposed the army".

“Except for the federal and Punjab governments, the other three provinces have yet to send their requests under Article 245,” Nisar said, adding that “two days ago, the interior ministry wrote its latest letter to the three provinces stating that if the requisition is not done under Article 245, the troops would be withdrawn”.

"I request that the army's stance of seeking requisition under Article 245, which is completely legitimate, should be entertained because when the army conducts any action against terrorists without this article in effect, then courts can summon army personnel and officers on request of the terrorists' heirs or representatives".

"In such situations, the accountability of army personnel involved in the action is initiated...resulting in distraction from the army's core duty of fighting against terrorism," Nisar said.

The interior minister added that “it is the army only which is working as a rapid response force as per details received by us”.

Article 245

Article 245 (1) of the Constitution states: “The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so,” while its sub-clause 2 states: “The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1) shall not be called in question in any Court.”

Read: View from the courtroom: Invoking of Article 245 generates legal debate

Furthermore, sub-clause 3 of Article 245 states: “A High Court shall not exercise any jurisdiction under Article 199 in relation to any area in which the Armed Forces of Pakistan are, for the time being, acting in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245: Provided that this clause shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of any proceeding pending immediately before the day on which the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power.”

In the past, security forces have been called in aid of civil power under the said article and even military courts were set up under it. There is a general impression that when security forces are called in aid of civil power, they exercise unbridled powers and don’t work under the command of civilian administration. However, judgments of superior courts in different cases show that security forces still have limited powers in related cases.

Other key points that were discussed by Nisar during the meeting are as follows:

  • Financing of terrorism and terrorist organisations must be stopped

  • The Red Book of most wanted terrorists needs to be updated regularly

  • All terrorist organisations (including those under new names) need to be tackled

  • Civil and military understanding is critical to develop a working paper to work forward on the issue of regulating of internet

  • Misuse of media by the terrorists has to end. The solution may come through a media code of conduct

  • If needed, a law may be made to blacklist people from appearing on-air. Severe punishments to be handed out against those media groups found violating the blacklist.

  • Terrorist threats should not be aired as breaking news

  • The spread of online hate speech and content generated by terrorists needs to end. Regulation of the Internet is required.

  • Greater regulation of explosives material is critical.

  • An audit may be conducted within a month on all companies dealing with explosives with civilian and military coordination.

The country's leadership has worked rapidly to build consensus on the action plan following the horrific Taliban attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar, which left over 140 dead – the majority of whom were children.

A view of the attendees of the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House.  — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page
A view of the attendees of the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House. — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page

Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Director General of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Rizwan Akhtar and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah are attending the meeting, as are Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other senior PPP, PTI and MQM leaders.

A view of the attendees of the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House.  — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page
A view of the attendees of the meeting of parliamentary leaders held at the Prime Minister House. — Courtesy: Prime Minister's Office facebook page

Extraordinary situation requires extraordinary measures: Nawaz

Delivering the opening speech of the meeting earlier during the day, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif thanked all the parties for their support and solidarity in the aftermath of the school attack.

“The way children were brutally killed...I don’t think there is any precedent in this country, or in the world. This is an extraordinary situation in the country which warrants extraordinary measures,” Nawaz said.

The premier added that, “Terrorism is a cancer-like disease and history will never forgive us if it is not treated now. The responsibility rests on all of us, and we have to take tough decisions against those who want to rip the country apart, those who are killing innocent children and have no mercy in their hearts.”

Chief of Army Staff Genereal Raheel Sharif briefed the meeting of parliamentary leaders during which he said that 2100 terrorists were killed and 190 soldiers had died during Operation Zarb-i-Azb which is being carried out in the North Waziristan tribal region.

Following the briefing, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, DG ISI Lt General Rizwan Akhtar and Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan responded to queries put forward by other attendees of the meeting.

Read: Accord on need for speedy justice

Yesterday the anti-terrorism action committee headed by Chaudhry Nisar had collected and discussed recommendations by the recently constituted anti-terrorism working group of counter-terror experts.

These recommendations, listed above, were the ones put forward during today’s meeting.