Question of semantics: Govt asked for facilitative, not mediatory role, says Nisar

Published: August 30, 2014
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Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan addressing a press conference in islamabad on Friday August 29, 2014. PHOTO: PID

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan addressing a press conference in islamabad on Friday August 29, 2014. PHOTO: PID

ISLAMABAD: 

The chief military spokesperson said on Friday that the government had asked Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif to ‘facilitate’ the resolution of the political imbroglio. Soon after, the interior minister explained how the government had requested a ‘facilitative role’ for the army chief, while ruling out any ‘mediatory’ or ‘guarantor’ role in the impasse, as was earlier claimed by Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Dr Tahirul Qadri.

“[The] COAS was asked by the govt to play a ‘facilitative’ role for [the] resolution of [the] current impasse, in yesterday’s meeting, at #PM House” Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), said in a tweet on the micro-blogging website Twitter.

Soon after the military spokesperson’s statement, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a news conference that the army chief acted at the government’s behest to end the political crisis created by the prolonged protest sit-ins of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and PAT. He was referring to Thursday night’s meetings of the army chief with Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan.

The interactions came hours after Chaudhry Nisar said in a statement that the government had asked the army chief to play his role to end the crisis. The decision, according to the interior minister, was taken at a meeting between the army chief and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

“During yesterday’s meeting [at the Prime Minister House] it was decided that the army chief may interact with them [Qadri and Imran]. But his role will be that of a facilitator, not a mediator or guarantor as some people are trying to interpret it,” Nisar said at Friday’s news conference.

“The government has given the army permission for whatever facilitation it has been playing. It [the role] should not be treated more than this,” he added.

The interior minister claimed that the role given to the army was in accordance with the Constitution. However, he did not quote any constitutional provision to substantiate his claim. “There are many examples in the past when the army was asked to perform something that does not directly come under its domain,” he said.

Nisar claimed that the government had sought the army’s facilitation upon the suggestion of “some interlocutors, both political and non-political”. He didn’t name anyone, though.

The minister said he didn’t say that he had received any request directly from the leaders of the two protesting parties for meetings with the army chief. To substantiate his claim, he read out parts of a speech he made on the floor of the National Assembly earlier in the day where he said that the government had asked the army chief to play a facilitative role for ending the prevailing crisis.

The interior minister also claimed that the statement issued by the ISPR was sent him for clearance before it was released to the general public.

The government’s decision to seek out the role of the army came under scathing criticism from allied and opposition parties in parliament. Opposition leader in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah and Mehmood Khan Achakzai, whose Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party is a coalition partner of the PML-N government, hit out at the government in their fiery speeches.

In a brief speech on the floor of the house, Premier Nawaz said that the PAT and PTI leaderships had requested for meetings with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif. He told the lawmakers that the interior minister asked him that Imran and Qadri wanted to meet the army chief and he [Nawaz] immediately granted the request.

“Nisar got a call from Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri in my presence. He [Nisar] said they want to meet the army chief. I immediately said if they want to meet him, let them meet,” the premier said. He added that even if he had not asked it, the army would have played its role since the military was already deputed in the federal capital. “If the protesters tried to storm any government building, the army would have taken action,” he added.

Soon after the speeches of the premier and the interior minister, the PAT chief emerged from his shipping container to refute these claims.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 30th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • Sami
    Aug 30, 2014 - 4:41AM

    @ET why do you update your web so late that news is expired?

    Recommend

  • sato fernando
    Aug 30, 2014 - 6:43AM

    it is so funny to watch and read about the comments,lectures by politicians and socalled experts on democracy and constitution of Pakistan.They don’t understand anything about democracy.They should be educated that democracy does not start from top.It goes from bottom to top and the power,right of one individual,ordinary citizen is as strong and some big elected politician.So when someone says that PTI or any elected politicians has right to negotiate with govt,protest,and PAT members has no right,they know nothing about democracy.Even if one does not vote,lets say a baby or a person under 18,he has equal right.Pak politicians should read about mature democracies in the west,or Mr.Maruyama Masao of Tokyo UniversityRecommend

  • salman
    Aug 30, 2014 - 7:12AM

    Ch nisar is trying well to spin the story, but it doesn’t change the fact that nawaz lied. In parliament. On record. Is this the kind of PM we want? Wonder what else he lies about?

    Recommend

  • Aug 30, 2014 - 7:26AM

    They have a sale on carry on suitcases, at the Dolmen Mall.
    Nisar will need one soon. PIA will carry him, in coach. For free.

    Recommend

  • Prognosticator
    Aug 30, 2014 - 7:33AM

    There are fault lines everywhere! An uninitiated person reading this will think the politicians were requesting their enemy’s military to intervene.

    Recommend

  • Aug 30, 2014 - 9:13AM

    The PMLN is blatantly and brazenly lying. It has just contradicted the denial by is PM in the NA. Whether you say ‘mediator’ or you say ‘facilitator,’ it means the same thing. This is just political
    semantics or jugglery.
    The PMLN has been lying all through and through and the fault lies in our Constitution for allowing uncouth and uncivilized people to run the affairs of the state. The nation has lost six INVALUABLE years of its stormy life. Years that could have given it some stability and direction. Salams

    Recommend

  • Aug 30, 2014 - 9:19AM

    @Prognosticator:
    Only an illiterate like you. would think so.

    Recommend

  • Khan
    Aug 30, 2014 - 10:52AM

    During his time wasting and ‘inculcating’ speech /press conference he gave an impression as if all ISPR releases are approved by him prior to issue!! I doubt his wishful thinking and would like him to correct it.He is too small a fry yet.And one more thing, his wig was not fitted well on this particular press conference.

    Recommend

  • Ayesha
    Aug 30, 2014 - 1:49PM

    @salman:
    He lies about everything!

    Recommend

  • Ayesha
    Aug 30, 2014 - 1:51PM

    Mr Minister, thank you for teaching us the meaning of “Facilitative.” Your efforts to enlighten us are much appreciated.
    Fact is, when push came to shove, your party buckled and ran to the military to facilitate saving your collective hide.
    Show some humility from now on.

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Aug 30, 2014 - 3:19PM

    Lame…………as my 5 year old would say.

    Recommend

  • Jibran
    Aug 30, 2014 - 4:49PM

    Both Nawaz and Nisar said in the national assembly that the request for negotiation/mediation/facilitation/or whatever was made by PTI+PAT and not the government. That was a flat lie.

    Recommend

  • SidraAfaq
    Aug 30, 2014 - 7:01PM

    There is clear difference between facilitation and mediation in conflict resolution

    And PM didn’t ask for mediation he is not lying
    Chudhery nisar clear it by word we asked for facilitation

    PM only said we didn’t ask for mediation he didn’t said we didn’t ask for facilitation because he knows the difference

    And army chief is also right at his place
    He also said about facilitative role

    Recommend

  • bahaha
    Aug 31, 2014 - 9:57AM

    “Its Urdu press – English reader problem”. They need to have English thinking types in English language papers. example : Ch. Sujhat left under “critical conditions”- mind u he is not dead just exhausted- (which is normal for a old man). critical here means the same a “sangeen halat” in Urdu.

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