ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had decided to deploy army in Islamabad under Article 245 of the Constitution on June 15, 2014. Before sounds of an Azadi march had started to ring around the capital, a defence official told The Express Tribune on Friday. The federal government is poised to clarify this in the upcoming session of the National Assembly on Monday.
The official said that soon after operation Zarb-e-Azb was launched against militants in mid-June, troops were moved to forward locations in Islamabad to quickly respond to any possible blowback.
The official said that there is nothing new in the order and now it is up to the federal government for how long it wanted to keep presence of troops at important installations.
Confirming that the capital was not being handed over to the army, an interior ministry official said that a contingent from of the military would only assist the police and civil administration at sensitive installations and serve as a rapid response force.
Currently, five companies of the army have been deployed on forward locations in Islamabad. They have been tasked with securing the Benazir Bhutto International Airport Islamabad, main offices of the judiciary, the Parliament, the Presidency and the Prime Minister Houses, foreign missions, foreign office and other important installations.
According to the security plan, the army would work in close coordination with the police, Rangers and the civil administration for ensuring fool proof security for Islamabad.
While the government claims the decision was taken on June 14, a notification implementing Article 245 was not issued before July 24. According to the notification, the request for the deployment of army had been forwarded by the Chief Commissioner Islamabad.
Per the notification, the army would have powers under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and the armed army men would have the same authority as that of a police officer. As per the act, the armed forces would be permitted to use force after giving due warning. Army would also hold the authority to rummage any building without a search warrant.
According to the first provision of Article 245, army is called by the federal government to assist the civil government. According to the sub-provisions, army enjoys the protection of the law and constitution to combat adverse situations.
Opposition not to happy over Article 245
The government's move has been roundly criticised by the opposition parties.
However, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), the main opposition party in the Parliament has opted to to take up the matter in the National Assembly when it convenes on August 4 after Eid holidays end.
The PPP has strongly opposed the decision to deploy the army in the capital, citing its grave implications for political stability and civil-military relations in the country.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), who has announced a march on to Islamabad on August 14, termed the move part of an effort to bring the armed forces under harsher light by involving them in political issues.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants to hide behind the army, however the final decision will be made in Islamabad.
“We will expose in Islamabad march the rigging backed by political leaders,” said the PTI leader.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi of the PTI said the deployment of army in Islamabad was in contravention of the Constitution.
PPP leader Qamar Zaman Kaira said the decision to impose Article-245 in the federal capital was beyond comprehension. He also termed the move against the Constitution.
Liaquat Baloch of the Jamaat-e-Islami said the premier had no right to use army for oppression against any one. He said that in the presence of civil institutions to maintain law and order, there was no need of army as law and order was the responsibility of civil institutions.