ISLAMABAD - Just weeks ahead of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI)’s announced march in Islamabad, the federal government has decided to deploy army in the federal capital in aid to police and civil administration, citing threat of backlash from Taliban who are facing a ruthless military operation in North Waziristan.

The decision has been taken in the light of Article 245 of the constitution. The government, on the demand of the provincial governments, has also decided to deploy army throughout the country to help police and civil administration in maintaining security ‘where needed’.

Official sources in interior ministry informed that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had taken this decision while chairing a security meeting in first week of July to enhance security at sensitive installations across the country. The ministry had been asked to go into the legal and administrative aspects of the decision before issuing a formal notification, they added.

However, it not clear yet whether sufficient troops would be available for different parts of the country at a time when military had started operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency (NWA). For the last few weeks some army units and civil armed troops are already on the disposal of local administration of Islamabad that had been requisitioned by the government under Section 5 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan here on Friday, in an informal talk with the reporters at the Parliament House, said that keeping in view the extraordinary security situation, the government had decided to deploy army in the federal capital for a period of three months. He said that interior ministry had sent a request of requisition to defence ministry in this connection.

The minister further said that security had been kept on high alert throughout the country to avert any backlash of ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb and provincial governments had been given special instructions in this regard. He said that provinces had been asked to keep the police and the security agencies on high alert.

About the PTI march, Nisar said, "The decision to permit PTI to hold march (in the capital) or not would be taken after the return of PM from abroad (Saudi Arabia)." He however informed that PTI had not submitted any application with Islamabad Deputy Commissioner office for a formal permission to hold march in Islamabad. He said the consultation would be made in this connection after the local administration would receive the application.

Later in the evening, the interior ministry in a statement clarified that capital was not at all being ‘handed over’ to army and media reports in this connection were contrary to the fact. The statement said that army had been called for a specific period in aid to police and civil administration to avert any untoward incident.

The ministry said that formal notification to deploy army under Article 245 in the country was issued on Thursday after the government thoroughly went through the constitutional, legal and administrative aspects of this step over last few weeks. It said army troops would support police and civil administration at the Islamabad airport and at some sensitive and important installations of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

"The army troops will perform the duties here as Rapid Response Force." The statement clarified that the decision had no relation with the month of August, when creation of the country is celebrated. The ministry spokesman informed that army troops would also be deployed in other parts of the country where needed under the same model and procedure.

The Article 245 that deals with the functions of the armed forces states: (1) The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so;

(2) The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1), shall not be called in question in any Court; (3) A High Court shall not exercise any jurisdiction under Article 199 in relation to any area in which the Armed Forced of Pakistan are, for the time being, acting in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245;

Provided that this clause shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of any proceeding pending immediately before the day on which the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power; (4) Any proceeding in relation to an area referred to in clause (3) instituted on or after the day the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power and pending in any High Court shall remain suspended for the period during which the Armed Forces are so acting.