Article 245 not invoked to stop Imran’s march: govt

* Nisar says opposition making army’s role in these crucial times controversial by needlessly twisting the matter * Move just to give legal cover to army


ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan categorically stated on Sunday that Article 245 of the constitution was not invoked to thwart any political rally, a reference to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s August 14 demonstration in the capital, saying that critics have twisted the matter to make the army controversial.
Speaking at a press conference, a visibly disturbed Nisar slammed the critics, especially those belonging to the opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), saying during its last tenure in power it resorted to this article eleven times. The interior minister plainly said that decision to call the army for assistance in maintaining the law and order situation in Islamabad for three months under Article 245 of the constitution had no link with “any political rally or party”.
“Anyone trying to link the government’s decision of calling in the army with any political party or political rally was actually engaging in political point-scoring and was making the army’s role needlessly controversial during a crucial time,” the minister noted. He showed astonishment over those criticising this move, saying that this is not something unconstitutional or something that has been done for the first time. “It is constitutional and invoked many a times in the past,” he said while referring to the Article 245.
Nisar disclosed that the decision to call the army in aid of civil power in Islamabad was not taken suddenly but after thorough brainstorming. He said that it was actually taken before the start of the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb operation in North Waziristan, following the precedent set during the military operation of 2010. He said that to call in the army under Article 245 did not mean handing over Islamabad to it, and added that in major parts of the world where democracy exists army is called in aid to civil powers. 
Lambasting those criticising government’s decision to invoke Article 245 of the constitution, Nisar said that the PML-N was not the first government to call for the military’s assistance and several other governments including the previous Pakistan People Party-led coalition government had also sought the help of the army, invoking the same article of the constitution. He added that even though Article 245 of the constitution had been invoked 11 times during the past seven years an issue is being created over the incumbent government’s decision to seek army’s assistance.
He disclosed that the army is present at some installations of Islamabad even now but does not have legal cover. “This move is to give them legal cover,” he clarified. Responding to a query, Nisar said that it is a pre-emptive action to secure the people, “as we cannot wait for the terrorists to first attack to awaken us”. About the civil-military relations, Nisar said they were excellent and added that in these crucial times not only civil and military leadership but all the political leadership should be on one page. He also ruled out any threat to democracy.
About PTI’s planned public meeting in Islamabad, Nisar said that no application has been received in this regard, and when it is received, the law would take its course. On security threats to Imran Khan, Nisar said that external intelligence sources have clearly signalled about threats to him as well as to some other high profile targets. 

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