Nothing to do with Opposition protest: Pak Army

Islamabad: Pakistan Army on Wednesday asserted that it will not mediate between the Imran Khan-led government and Opposition whose Azadi March has entered the sixth day, stating that the dharna was “a political activity which the army as an institution has nothing to do with.”

In a special interview to Pakistan’s Hum News, Pakistan Army spokesperson Asif Ghafoor talked in length about the ongoing protest led by fireband cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman that has gripped the entire capital of Islamabad.

Ghafoor said that the Pakistan Army was busy dealing with national security issues to become involved in political activities like the JUI-F’s Azadi March.

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“We are too busy in matters of national security and defence to become involved in things like these and respond to these allegations,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said when asked whether the army chief would mediate in the ongoing dharna like it did during the 2014 PTI-led sit-in.

The purported aim of the march is to oust Imran Khan, who has been at the helm for just over a year.

According to Fazlur Rehman aka Maulana Diesel, the march has been called to “protect the Constitution, democracy and Pakistan”.

Earlier, Khan made it clear that he will not succumb to pressure from the opposition and not resign from his post.

The anti-government protest is likely to be one of the biggest in the country, surpassing the numbers of the 2014 ‘dharna’ held against the then Pakistani government led by Nawaz Sharif.

The military spokesperson said in another TV interview on Saturday that the Pakistan Army always supported “democratically elected governments in accordance with the law and the Constitution”.

“The army has been engaged in national security responsibilities, especially for the past 20 years as I’ve said earlier. Our responsibilities don’t allow us to get involved in any such [political] activity,” he said while referring to the security challenges faced by the country on eastern as well as western fronts.

Khan also stated that his negotiation team will respond positively if the opposition displays seriousness towards reaching a consensus to end the protest march.

Meanwhile, according to DAWN, the second round of talks between the government negotiating team and the Opposition’s Rehbar Committee failed to break the ongoing deadlock between the two sides.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said the government is trying to find a middle ground with the opposition to break the ongoing deadlock.
The opposition has demanded the resignation of Imran Khan and called for immediate polls.

Khattak said that Rehman keeps decrying rigging in the July 2018 elections but has yet to bring forward any proof to substantiate his claims.

Speaking during DawnNewsTV talk-show ‘News Wise’, the minister said that if the allegations were proven “it is but natural that action will be taken”.

Asked to elaborate what such action would entail, Khattak said: “If it is proven that rigging took place, the government would no longer exist”.

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