LAHORE - In response to Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali Khan’s assertion that army’s role as ‘facilitator’ was as per the constitution, politicians from mainstream political parties have termed army’s mediation role a meddling in political affairs.
The interior minister on Friday also endorsed ISPR DG’s statement that government had asked the army to play the role of a facilitator. This was in contradiction to prime minister’s contention on floor of the National Assembly that government did not ask the army to mediate between the two sides.
Commenting on Nisar’s statement, former Punjab governor and constitutional expert, Sardar Latif Khosa said that the interior minister was telling a lie as there was no provision in the constitution allowing the army to act as mediator in political matters. “To back up one lie, the government is telling another”, Khosa remarked while talking to The Nation.
He said that after the clarification by the ISPR DG, it was quite clear now that the prime minister told a lie to the nation on floor of the House.
Khosa alleged that the government wanted to use the army like police and the bureaucracy. “Army is a subsidiary institution of the state which cannot be asked to perform the role of police or bureaucracy”, he said, adding the government wanted to subdue the state and the constitution to achieve political ends.
To a question, he said there was greater likelihood of General Kakar’s formula being applied again. He also did not rule out the possibility of another military coup if the situation did not change in the next few days.
“We are with the state, democracy and the constitution and not with the government” Khosa clarified his party’s position under the existing situation. He stressed that Nawaz Sharif should step down if it becomes inevitable to save democracy and the constitution.
“It seems Nawaz Sharif is in great hurry to complete the hat trick of dismissal of his governments”, he remarked.
PML-Q Secretary Information Kamil Ali Agha said that the army could only be called in under article 245 of the Constitution to assist the civil administration to maintain order. Apart from this, he added, the army had no constitutional role in civilian affairs. Criticising the government for involving the army to resolve a political issue, Agha said that the government had put the army into a situation wherein the only option left for it was to ask the prime minister to tender his resignation. “The only constitutional way left to resolve the crisis is that prime minister should step down”, he affirmed.
The PML-Q leader attributed the current political turmoil to what he called ‘sheer inefficiency’ of the government.
Senior lawyer and JI leader Farid Paracha said that there was no room in the constitution to engage army into political affairs. It should be left to the politicians to settle the issue without inviting the third force to intervene, he said. Paracha also grilled PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT leader Dr Tahirul Qadri for their meeting with the army chief. “They should have refused to meet him”, he asserted.
ANP leader Senator Zahid Khan said that inviting the army to mediate among political parties would tarnish its image of a professional force. “The army should not be asked to clear the political mess created by the government”, he said, adding that armed forces had a clearly defined role under the constitution which does not allow them to get involved in political matters.
To a question, he said that the government has been pushed to a blind alley due to its follies.
On the involvement of the army in political matters, PTI leader Javed Hashmi told a news channel Thursday that it was a matter of great shame for all politicians who could not settle a political issue despite having enough time for negotiations.
However, he did not see any harm in army’s role as guarantor between the rival parties.
JUI-F spokesperson Jan Achakzai termed the decision a failure of the politicians. He said politicians should have found out a constitutional way of tackling the problem.