Govt asked army to act as ‘facilitator’, not ‘mediator’

* Interior minister says Imran and Qadri are exaggerating their meeting with army chief * Meeting held after govt’s approval


ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan on Friday categorically stated that the government had not asked army to play the role of a mediator, saying it was being wrongly propagated, rather it asked it to be a facilitator to end the current political impasse.  
“Imran Khan and Dr Qadri are just exaggerating the details of their meeting with army chief and are wrongly giving the impression of army’s role as a mediator,” the interior minister contended. “Pakistan is passing through a critical phase, and unconstitutional demands are being made for changing the present democratic system,” he said. Addressing the press conference at Punjab House Islamabad, Nisar dismissed the impression that the last meeting of army chief General Raheel Sharif with PTI chief Imran Khan and PAT leader Tahirul Qadri were held on government’s desire.
“Neither the army requested to mediate nor we asked them for it,” he said. “I received a phone call from the Pakistan Army on Thursday, saying Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri desire to meet army chief and the permission of the prime minister was sought,” Nisar informed. The army, the interior minister contended, was playing its constitutional role, as it had earlier given a loud and clear message through the ISPR of protecting the national buildings on the Constitution Avenue as Article 245 had already been imposed in Islamabad. “We should not put the army in a test”. 
He said the PTI and PAT wanted to involve Pakistan Army in the country’s politics. Both are using the name of Pakistan Army while the fact of the matter is that the army was neither interested in arbitration nor offered mediation, he added. Nisar said the agenda of the protesting parties was to do away with democracy through unconstitutional demands; adding that they wanted bloodshed at the Constitution Avenue. “The protesters do not have confidence on the country’s institutions, including the election commission, election tribunals, lawyers’ community, civil society, Supreme Court and political parties,” he complained.
“Who can solve this (sit-in) issue? Should we should go to the UN, Canada or UK? We have registered the FIR on innocent people who are not involved in PAT workers’ killing incident in Lahore. The outside world is enjoying the situation in Islamabad where some thousand people have besieged the capital of a nuclear power,” the interior minister said. 

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