ISLAMABAD - Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Sunday rejected the criticism that deployment of Pakistan Army in Islamabad had anything to do with long march or sit-in of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
"These are totally misplaced notions and part of political point scoring against the government", the minister told a press conference at the Punjab House.
He clarified that decision to call for the army had been taken before the initiation of the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan but got final approval in the GHQ meeting a few days ago.
Nisar said the interior ministry had forwarded a requisition for around 350 army personnel for deployment in the federal capital to maintain the law and order situation. He said the army personnel would act under the Anti Terrorism Act 1997 and provide assistance to the civil administration on the directives of the district magistrate. The notification issued by the interior minister for the purpose was also a guideline for the provinces to seek the assistance of army to beef up security, he added.
Rejecting the notion that army had been given control of the federal capital, he stressed that the armed forces would only assist the civil administration in maintaining law and order.
Through the Article 245, he said, the government had given legal cover for the deployment of army troops under Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 for security of the capital, airports and other strategic buildings, adding that the notification issued by the interior minister for the purpose was also a guideline for the provinces to seek the assistance of army to beef up security.
Though Article 245 had been invoked 11 times during the last seven years, an issue was created only when the army's assistance was sought by the incumbent government for maintaining law and order, he said. Several governments, including the previous Pakistan People Party (PPP) led coalition government, had also sought the help of the army by invoking Article 245, he added.
The minister said that anyone trying to link the government's decision of calling in the army with any political party's rally was actually engaging in political point-scoring and making the army's role unnecessarily controversial at a crucial time.
He claimed that there was no threat to democracy in the country, adding that the government had good working relationship with the army and other intuitions of the country.
On long march or sit-in of Imran Khan on Independent Day, he said no application from the PTI had been received to the capital's district administration so far.