ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday put the onus of responsibility on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Terheek (PAT) for army mediation in the current political crisis by absolving himself of placing any request with the army chief for playing a role to end the impasse.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also distanced himself from seeking army help, categorically telling the National Assembly that he did not request Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif for mediation. The prime minister claimed that Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri had actually wanted to meet the army chief. Nawaz said that in the presence of Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan he had received a telephone call regarding Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri wanting to meet General Raheel.
“If Khan and Qadri want a meeting with the army chief, he should meet them,” Nawaz said while telling the background of army’s mediation to the parliamentarians. Brushing aside the impression of giving in to army, Prime Minister Nawaz declared that political governments could afford to scarify their governments but not their ideologies. “The governments come and go; but principles can’t be scarified,” Nawaz said while noting that he keeps dear his principles and ideology.
Responding to the thundering speech of opposition leader Khursheed Shah, the prime minister called it a reflection of his sentiments and recalled his struggle with late Benazir Bhutto for democracy. “How one can expect a U-turn from me, who endured the hardships of arrest and exile for the cause of democracy,” Nawaz said. “A U-turn by violating the commitment to democracy is out of question, as seats come and go,” Nawaz declared emphatically. He assured the House that his government would stand with the resolution of parliament for upholding the constitution and parliament in letter and spirit and termed it his duty to regard each and every word of this resolution.
About the statements of protesting parties over army’s mediation, the prime minister noted that everyone knows how much truth and falsehood is there in the statements of people who have been protesting outside the parliament “by using women and children as human shields”. Earlier, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan, speaking on the floor of the House, said that the government was left with no option but to agree to mediation of army after the protesting groups themselves wished to have army’s role by rejecting other institution’s offered solutions.
“These two groups did not trust the judiciary; they did not trust the opposition parties in this assembly; they do not trust lawyers, tribunals. If they do not trust anyone but the army what option did the government have?” he questioned. He clarified that the army was involved in this issue on a request by the protesting parties, and the government had simply facilitated. He said that it should not be interpreted beyond that. Nisar emphatically stated that the army was on the government’s side. “The army is of Pakistan and does not belong to the PTI or PAT,” he said. The minister deplored that today army is guarding the Red Zone because of these two protesting parties rather than being in North Waziristan Agency, where a military operation is underway to hunt down the terrorists.
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