ISLAMABAD - The invocation of Article 245 in the federal capital resounded in Tuesday’s National Assembly session as the government claimed it had no link to any political protest, but the opposition, terming it ‘mini martial law’, said if there had been mo political link, then it could be invoked after August 14.

The ruling clique on private-member day in a reconciliatory mode not only offered PTI for dialogue to amicably resolve the issue, but also asked the other parties to play their role to defuse political tension.

Almost all the opposition parties were unanimous at the point to withdraw Article 245 forthwith to strengthen the democratic system in the country. Winding up around four-hour debate, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan offered the other parties to intervene to defuse the tension. “If PPP, JI, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Sheikh Rashid play any reconciliatory role, we will accept it,” said the minister, adding no one had the right to divide the nation on August 14. “Everyone should hold Pakistani flag on August 14 and chant slogans in favour of Pakistan,” he proposed.

About Article 245, Nisar clarified that it was imposed 24 times without consulting any political party. “There is no such precedent in the past of taking the parliament into confidence before invoking this article,” he said, adding that the invocation of the article was a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward situation.

He said Article 245 had been invoked only to combat terrorism and after consultations in the party,” he said, quoting the example that it was also invoked in Sri Lanka, Britain, Spain, Italy and Latin American countries. He also made it clear that Islamabad had not been handed over to the army by invoking Article 245.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the invocation of Article 245 has no link to blocking any political protest. He advised PTI to step forward to resolve the issue through the parliament.

Taking the floor, Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah asked the government to withdraw the decision to invoke Article 245 in Islamabad. “It is a challenge to democracy. The government should not take shelter behind this article,” he said, adding the government can summon joint session of the parliament to discuss the issue. “Zulfikar Ali Bhutto invoked this article in 1977, but admitted in his book that it was a wrong decision,” he said, adding the government should not be afraid from the long march.

Strongly criticising the government’s move to invoke Article 245 in the federal capital, Khursheed Shah termed it a ‘mini martial law’.

He said the Pakistan People’s Party always supported democracy but by calling Army in Islamabad, the government has showed its weakness. He asked why the Parliament wasn’t taken into confidence before calling the military in Islamabad, adding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should learn from mistakes of the past.

He said that the government is in ‘panic’ because of the political threat posed by Dr Tahriul Qadri, adding PPP will continue to strive for saving the democracy.

The opposition leader argued that if democracy is derailed, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would be responsible, and also announced a movement against the government’s move if the decision is not reversed.

Taking part in the debate, PTI MNA Arif Alvi criticised the decision of invoking Article 245 before August 14. “If there is no ill intention, then it should have not invoked before August14,” he said, demanding the government immediately withdraw its decision. “If the situation becomes worse, you will be responsible for it,” he warned the rulers, assuring the house that Azadi March would be peaceful.

PkMAP Chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai, on his turn, said the prime minister should also call all the political parties to discuss the political matter in length. “There is a need of passing a unanimous resolution that the parliament would not accept any act against the Constitution,” he added.

The third largest party (MQM) criticised the timing of invoking Article 245 in the federal capital. “If this is necessary, you can do it after August 14,” an MQM legislator said and advised the government rather facilitate the participants of the Azadi march.

Taking part the in debate, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq again invited the opposition to hold dialogue to resolve the issues. “It is quite surprising that PTI was in favour of holding dialogue with Taliban, but is not ready to talk to the government,” he said and asked PTI to delay their march till the conclusion of the military operation in North Waziristan.