The opposition in the Senate on Monday opposed the government’s move to call out the army by invoking Article 245.
The debate started on a motion moved by PPP Senator Raza Rabbani, regarding the invoking of Article 245 in Islamabad, as the chair allowed discussion on the issue by suspending other agenda items.
Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan advised the government to carefully handle the situation following the announcement of a protest by Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri on the same day. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should not panic because parliament is standing by the government,” Ahsan said.
“It looks as though we are moving towards a political deadlock and the situation should be handled with care,” he maintained. He warned the federal government and Imran Khan to avoid any ‘violent course’, which would pave the way for a ‘third force’ to intervene.
Ahsan said the federal government approached Imran Khan through several avenues in an attempt to defuse the situation by accepting its earlier demand of a vote recount, but the offer was spurned.
He advised the government to not create obstacles for peaceful protesters and facilitate them instead. “It is not a test of the federal government but a challenge for Imran Khan to see how long he succeeds in engaging supporters,” he added.
Criticising the recent statements by the PAT chief, he said that revolutions were always non-violent and so the revolution announced by Qadri seems to be ‘vague’ in nature. He warned Imran Khan and Dr Qadri to cease their campaign, saying the government would not be blamed if any untoward incident takes place.
Ahsan recalled statements by General Raheel Sharif after General Parvez Kayani’s retirement, saying no intervention by the army would take place.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Article 245 ousts the power of the high court by suspending the fundamental rights of the people. The constitutional clause can be imposed when civilian administration such as the police, Rangers and other agencies fail to maintain law and order. He said the fundamental rights of the people of Islamabad have been suspended since August 1.
Senator Babar assured Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that parliamentarians will back him if he takes parliament into confidence.
Senator Mushahidullah Khan said it is the responsibility of the government to protect key installations, including the prime minister’s house or parliament. He added that the PTI’s demand is unjust as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz was not in power when the election was held.
Criticising the PTI’s claim of rigging in Punjab, he said Imran Khan never discussed poll rigging in Sindh, Balochistan or any other province. PTI wants to derail democracy while Dr Tahirul Qadri is trying to spread anarchy in the country, he said.
Senator Haji Adeel of the Awami National Party (ANP) said Islamabad has been turned into a fortress and added that even his party had reservations about accepting the results of the 2013 general elections but had nevertheless accepted the PTI victory in areas traditionally won by the ANP.
Senator Babar Ghauri of the MQM called on both sides to work out their differences through dialogue.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th,2014.
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