Pak Army denies receiving government orders to take charge of Islamabad: Reports

New Delhi, July 26: The Pakistan Army has reportedly denied receiving any notification or instruction from the Nawaz Sharif Government to maintain law and order in national capital Islamabad for a period of three months from August 1.

According to an Express Tribune report, army officials denied receiving any such notification.

The daily further states that Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s statement doesn’t mention any role for army troops at security checkpoints erected at all entry points to the capital city and at dozens of other places inside the city.

There is also no mention of army troops joining patrolling duties, as claimed earlier by a government spokesman in a text message to journalists.

Meanwhile, a report from Islamabad has indicated that the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party has strongly opposed the handover of Islamabad to the army.

In a statement, senior PPP leader and Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the PML-N Government’s decision is pregnant with serious consequences for the people and country, as it means not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts.

“Worst still, in practical terms, it also means setting up of military courts, which cannot be permitted,” Babar said in his statement.

He said the PPP has always opposed invoking Article 245 for calling army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country. He said the situation in Islamabad is not any worse than in any other part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment to fix it by vesting in them powers beyond judicial oversight.

“The decision reflects the penchant of PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything be it meter reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate.” Babar said that it will further distort the already distorted civil-military equation.

The Government of Pakistan has invoked Article 245 of the Constitution and made the Army responsible for security of the capital city of Islamabad from August, 1.

The government order says that key installations in the federal capital will be under the army’s control for the next three months in an attempt to ward off any blowback from the military operation in North Waziristan Agency.

“The army had been requisitioned at the ICT [Islamabad Capital Territory] under Article 245 of the Constitution read with Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 to pre-empt any possible blowback of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. The army will be used for rapid response, patrolling and checking for a period of 90 days,” a government spokesperson said.

The government is emphasising that the purpose is to secure the federal capital and pre-empt any potential terrorist attack. Critics, however, claim that this is just another deceitful way to thwart the forthcoming rallies of opposition parties.

Opposition parties in Pakistan believe that this move has been taken in the backdrop of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s scheduled march in Islamabad on August, 14 and Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s threat to overthrow the government through a ‘green revolution’.

After Article 245 comes into effect, contingents of the army’s special units will be appointed at Islamabad airport and some other sensitive installations to aid the police and civil administration.

In a bizarre twist to the situation, the army has denied receiving any such notification. The statements of key Ministers of the government also do not corroborate each other.

The Interior Minister’s announcement does not talk about any function for army troops at security checkpoints erected at all entry points to the capital city and at dozens of other places inside the city. There is also no mention of army troops joining patrolling duties, as claimed earlier by a government spokesman.

Pakistan’s Railways Minister Khawja Saad Rafique has given a different interpretation of Article 245. “Decision has been taken to avoid any kind of ‘Fasad’ [chaos],” he tweeted on micro-blogging website Twitter. (ANI) By Anshika