LAHORE - All the opposition parties have opposed the government’s decision of handing over the control of Islamabad to Pakistan Army under article 245 of the Constitution.

PPP spokesperson Senator Farhatullah Babar in a statement said the decision was full of serious consequences for the people and country as it meant not only failure of the civil administration but also total suspension of the jurisdiction of the High Courts.

“Worst still, in practical terms it also means setting up of military courts which cannot be permitted,” he observed.

Babar said that the PPP had always opposed invoking article 245 for calling army in aid of civil power whether it was in Karachi or other parts of the country. The situation in Islamabad is not any worse in any part of the country to warrant inviting security establishment to fix it by vesting in them powers beyond judicial oversight, he said.

“The government fails to recognise that if today it is Islamabad, tomorrow it could be Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Lahore and indeed the whole country may have to be handed over to the army under article 245 and practically dispense with the high courts,” he said,  adding, “Bad as it already is the human rights situation in the country will get even worse as the doors of high courts are shut on the citizens”.

He further said that the decision of handing over federal capital to the army would also send disturbing signals to the world about the prevailing security situation in the country. “The decision reflects the penchant of the PML-N government to lean on the security establishment for everything be it metre reading or tracing of ghost schools or appointing monitors and is most unfortunate. And let us not forget the security apparatus once called in aid of civil power under this article might want to linger on even after it is no longer needed,” he remarked.

He said no one wanted to relinquish power or abdicate a position of authority and influence in which their actions were not called into question in the courts.

Farhatullah said that it will further distort the already distorted civil-military equation. He reminded the PML-N government of the Charter of Democracy. He said that four articles of the Charter (articles 32 to 36 ) called for concerted actions to address distortions in civil-military relations. The decision to hand over Islamabad to the army, instead of correcting the existing huge imbalance, will further tilt the balance against the civilian, political and judicial structures of the country, he said. The government will do well to take a leaf from the past before venturing into this adventurism, he said.

Condemning the government for failing to handle the political issues through political means, PTI senior leader Dr Arif Alvi said that the government called the army to counter a political protest under the cover of dealing with so-called extra-ordinary security situation in the federal capital.

Talking to The Nation regarding the government’s decision, Dr Alvi said that law and order situation of Karachi was like that of FATA but the government has taken no serious action on this issue and called the army to take over the security of Islamabad ahead of the PTI’s peaceful Azadi March. He said the decision has established the fact that the government had failed on all fronts, especially the political front.

The PTI leader said that followers of Imran Khan would launch a peaceful march, while it seemed that the government wanted to create a law and order situation to malign the PTI for foul play.

Commenting on the decision, Pakistan Awami Tehrik president Dr Raheeq Abbasi said the government wanted to involve armed forces in politics. He said the decision was a proof of government’s nervousness.

He said the government had also tried to deploy army on airport on arrival of Dr Tahirul Qadri. He said if the rulers tried to stop the democratic and revolution movement of the people through army, it would not be good for the government and the country also.