ISLAMABAD: As the political temperature continues to rise in Pakistan, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday told parliamentarians that the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) government would never use the army for political battles, adding that Article 245 of the Constitution was implemented in Islamabad for the protection of citizens.
It was not invoked as a step against any protest, march or political party, Nisar remarked.
Speaking at a session of the National Assembly, he revealed that according to the records of the interior ministry, Article 245 has been invoked 24 times since 2007.
Nisar also said that approval from Parliament was never taken for the numerous times Article 245 was implemented and therefore, it was wrong to criticise PML-N for not taking parliamentary approval.
He stated that Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League - Quaid (PML-Q) have also used Article 245 in the past, adding that it was also used for the Lal Masjid Operation.
The interior minister remarked that it is clearly mentioned in the notification for the implementation of Article 245, that the article was invoked to combat terrorism, questioning how people can say that it was done for political reasons.
"The Army does not serve any political party, it is for the entire country," the interior minister said, adding that there is no shame in asking the army for help.
"Developed countries such as England, Italy and Spain have also sought help from their armies in order to aid civil leadership," Nisar remarked.
The interior minister stated that Islamabad had not been handed over to the army, adding that the army will be carrying out its operations under Anti-Terrorism Act.
"When a military operation is being conducted, emergency is usually declared throughout the country but the PML-N government did not do this," Nisar stated.
Referring to the major attacks that have taken place in the federal capital in the past, Nisar stated there should be pre-emptive measures to avoid any untoward situations.
'PPP to protest more than PTI, PAT if Article 245 not revoked'
Earlier, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah said PPP will be ahead of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) protesting against the government if it fails to revoke its decision to implement Article 245 in Islamabad, Express News reported.
Speaking during a session of the National Assembly, Shah advised the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) government to let PAT and PTI workers to enter Islamabad as it is their constitutional right.
Demanding an explanation for government's decision to invoke Article 245, the opposition leader said summoning the armed forces can be seen as a failure of the government. "Is the army being called in to stop the protest rallies?" he questioned.
The PPP leader claimed that the imposition of the article was equal to trying to eliminate political forces.
Shah also stated the government will have to take its decision back no matter what, adding that the government should think about what it is doing as it is making one mistake after another.
'Implementation of Article 245 not related to August 14 march'
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, while speaking to the media outside the National Assembly in Islamabad, said that implementation of Article 245 in the federal capital was not related to the march on August 14.
"The decision to implement the article was under discussion since June, when the August 14 march had not even been announced," he remarked.
When questioned whether army will be used to stop workers of PTI to enter Islamabad, the defence minister refused.
In a bid to clarify why it was necessary to invoke Article 245 in Islamabad, Asif stated that when the army carried out operations in the past against terrorists, missing persons cases were filed against it, implying that a legal cover was required for the army when it is called to assist civilian institutions.
The article which 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 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.
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Article 245 is equivalent to mini martal law because it took away basic rights from Citizens. what would you expect from PMLn Leader who nurtured by General Zia. If the real intention was to protect the citizens from any external attack then they should have implimented 245 in KPK. PMLn just looking for legal cover to use force against innocent people from protesting just like they did in model town incident.Shame on such Democracy!!
I'm against 245 as it undermines civilian supremacy but perhaps the government knows something I don't , like a law and order situation where the state needs to be strong. PTI and PAT are threatening police officers and judiciary - no where in the world would this be tolerated!
In any case , it's a bit lsughable for the "establishment pawns " like PTI , Q, PAT , Sh Rasheed, to be critical of 245.
The truth is that army top brass has communicated to the government that it will not be possible for it to confront political workers.
PMLN has a long history, in fact habit, of using the army. They handed over Wapda to army, they handed over schools to army,
Why does'nt he tells his collegues that 245 was invoked to protect the foreign operators in the capital? Mr Sharif and his close confidants protection is coincidental?
What about the constitutional right of the ordinary citizens of the Islamabad who don't like and don't want these demonstrations hostaging their city and their lives???
Is he not the head of Friendly opposition party of Ruling party in Pakistan ?
Another empty threat from a Friendly Opposition