Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
The prime minister has decided in principle to approve the deployment of the armed forces in aid of the civil administration to enhance security at sensitive installations across the country under Article 245 of the Constitution. Nawaz Sharif took the decision after consulting his close aides during a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Friday.
“Under Article 245, which is already implemented in North Waziristan Agency, the army will be called to assist the civilian administration to heighten security arrangements at sensitive installations in major cities and wherever they are. A notification will be issued within a couple of days,” Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid told The Express Tribune.
Article 245 which deals with the functions of the armed forces states: “650 (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.
“651 (2) The validity of any direction issued by the federal government under Clause (1) shall not be called into 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 forces 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 proceedings 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.”
The prime minister also sought a detailed report from Law Secretary Barrister Zafar before the formal notification would be issued, sources told The Express Tribune.
The meeting was attended by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Federal Ministers Pervaiz Rashid, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Khawaja Saad Rafique.
The prime minister directed the finance ministry to leave no stone unturned in facilitating tens of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) during and after Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
“Our priority is to help our people displaced by fighting and we will do our best to help them,” he was quoted as saying. “We will make sure that after the operation the displaced tribesmen are rehabilitated with honour.”
SAFRON Minister Abdul Qadir Baloch, who has been tasked by the prime minister to look after the IDPs, briefed the meeting on the overall situation. He said that he himself visited Bannu and met with tribal elders to get firsthand information on the IDPs issue.
“The IDPs camps are being managed well. There is no load-shedding at the camps as round-the-clock electricity supply has been ensured. Children of the IDPs are also being vaccinated against polio,” he claimed. He added that cash distribution among the IDPs was being made in a transparent manner and from July 8 onwards payment would be made through mobile cash transfers.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar told the meeting the Economic Coordination Committee has approved 60,000 tonnes of wheat for distribution to the IDPs.
Number of IDPs soars to nearly 600,000
Officials said on Friday that the number of IDPs has now reached 572,295.
Commissioner SAFRON Abbas Khan, Commissioner Bannu Syed Mohsin Shah, Camp Brigadier Aftab and Brigadier Mukhtiar told a joint news conference in Bannu that Eid packages would be distributed among the IDPs from today (Saturday).
The officials said a total of Rs338 million has been disbursed to date among 28,167 families so far and 22 booths have been set up to facilitate registration at the Saidgai checkpoint. While NADRA teams are present to verify the NICs of those arriving at the checkpoint, FDMA and army officials were joined by civilians, including teachers, in assisting the IDPs.
Mobile hospitals have been set up at the camps. The distribution of food at these camps is overseen by the additional assistant commissioner of the area. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has recruited 500 police officials to boost security at the camps.
The officials said that the IDPs were unlikely to remain in the camps and might settle in rented houses or with relatives in other areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2014.