ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government on Friday claimed in the National Assembly (NA) that it had not asked Army to mediate in the current political stalemate to defuse the tension.
The government side passing the buck on both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri said that on the request of both the protesting parties' heads, the Army Chief took permission from the PM to meet them.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at the fag end of the proceeding, said that the government had not asked Army for mediation, as it would never compromise on democratic norms.
"It is a truth that a telephone call was received (wherein it was conveyed) that they both (Imran and Qadri) wanted to meet (with COAS). The army chief sought permission and he was permitted," said Nawaz, putting weight behind Interior Minister Ch Nisar's claim that the government had not asked the army to intervene in this situation.
"I am under oath to protect the constitution and the parliament and I will never deviate from it. We will not compromise on supremacy of the parliament and we honour each and every word of the resolution passed by the house," said the PM quoting the resolution passed a couple of days ago in the national assembly in favour of democracy by nine out of ten political parties.
"I can sacrifice (government) ten times... such positions come and go but I cannot compromise on a principled stand," he said, adding that he would never compromise on the protection of democracy.
Sharing the past practices, Nawaz said all the political groups including PML-N and PPP have given much sacrifices for restoration and strengthening of democracy. "I have also worked with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for this great cause," he maintained.
Earlier, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said the government was left with no option but to agree to mediation of Army after protesting groups wished to have Army's role by rejecting solutions offered by other institutions.
“They both (Imran and Qadri) did not trust the judiciary as they even did not trust the opposition parties in this assembly... they do not trust lawyers, tribunals... but repeatedly said they trusted army,” he said, adding that without making it a matter of ego, they made a way.
He claimed that Army’s involvement in the issue came on the request by the protesting parties and the government simply facilitated it, as he urged that it should not be interpreted beyond that. The minister further said that army was on the government side and accused PTI and PAT for using the name of army.
"The Army is of Pakistan and not belongs to PTI or PAT", he said, adding that incumbent chief wanted to be apolitical in this situation. He further said Army is guarding the Red Zone because of these two protesting parties rather than staying in North Waziristan Agency.
The protesting elements levelled false allegations on them, he said, adding five out of six demands of PTI were accepted by the government and even prime minister had stated if massive rigging was proved then he would quit the government. Nisar said if government succumbs to the pressure of these few thousand people and the prime minister resigns then a more powerful group could come next time to seek fall of next government.
About long marches, he said that he was opposed to giving permission to them in this connection, but then government decided to allow these. "There was difference of opinion but permission was given to them finally," he said, adding that all political forces were on one side and two groups are on the other side to implement their agenda through mob politics. He claimed that there were 2,500 women, 180 children and 20 toddlers in the sit-in. "Protesters are using tactics like wearing shrouds and digging graves on the Constitution Avenue," he added.
Taking the floor, Opposition leader Syed Khurshid Shah in an emotional tone asked ISPR to clarify the situation regarding army’s involvement in the current political scenario. It is unfortunate that a bad impression was created about the position of the government on the issue; interior minister has tried to remove this impression but ISPR should also clarify it. All political parties will stand to ensure supremacy of the constitution, he vowed.
About the threats of both Imran and Qadri, Shah said the government should allow these ‘undemocratic’ protesters to storm the parliament, if they want to. "Destroy parliament, burn it (if you want to) but don't touch constitution of the country," he warned to the protesters, while waving book of constitution in the House.
PkMAP chief Mahmood Khan Achakzai said government side should have clarified its position yesterday (Thursday), and he proposed government to keep running current session. "If they cannot run the current session then at least, joint session of the parliament should be summoned to address the issue," he added.