Pakistan hands over Islamabad security to army

The Pakistan government on Friday handed over federal capital Islamabad’s security to the army for three months. The move is seen in light of opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s call for “decisive” march to Islamabad on the eve of the country’s independence day on August 14. Khan has been mounting pressure on the government to agree to an independent inquiry into the alleged rigging in the national polls last year. He said his dream of “new Pakistan” would be realized only by taking to the streets.

“On the Independence Day, I would expose the whole team that had fixed the last general election match,” Khan said in Lahore. “The azadi (independence) march from Lahore will be a final battle to root out the corrupt and bring in a fair system in the country.” Political analysts believe the government is primarily trying to contain Khan’s march besides countering the terrorist threats in the wake of ongoing anti-Taliban military offensive in North Waziristan by calling the army.

“The decision shows complete incompetence of civilian government to run the affairs. Such decisions in the past always resulted in paving the way for military intervention,” said Ihsanullah Tipu Mehsud, an Islamabad-based analyst. The government called the army by invoking the constitution’s article 245.article. Under the provision, it can call to the armed forces to defend Pakistan against any external aggression, threat or deteriorating internal law and order situation.

The PTI said the move proves Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif-led government is scared of the march. “We have been demanding an independent verification of 2013 elections. This is our just, democratic and constitutional demand,” said PTI lawmaker Murad Saeed. “By involving the armed forces the government is bent upon snatching our basic democratic right of peaceful protest and such tactics would not stop us from marching on Islamabad on August 14.” He said the government involves the military in the business of state and then blames it for derailing democracy.

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Volume 10 Issue 41 | New York | Oct 21

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