Pakistan Army to be called in capital Islamabad: Report

Pakistan Army to be called in capital Islamabad: Report

ISLAMABAD - The government is weighing the option of calling in armed forces in the federal capital in connection with "Azadi March" of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman as it has started devising its strategy to deal with the protest.

Rehman will march on Islamabad on Oct.31 to "topple the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) government,” accusing it of coming into power through rigged elections.

All major opposition parties including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Awami National Party (ANP) and Pukhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party have already announced their support for the protests.

Police circles said if the talks between a government committee and Rehman remain unsuccessful the government may call the army under Article 245 of the Constitution.

Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman salutes as he watches the preparations of 'Azadi March' in Peshawar. AFP

They said a meeting held at Prime Minister Imran Khan’s personal residence in Bani Gala on law and order situation discussed different options to counter the march.

The participants agreed that peaceful protest is everyone’s right but no one can be allowed to besiege Islamabad. The state will perform its duty to protect the public life and property. The meeting also discussed security of sensitive government buildings and foreign embassies.

It decided that the government will hold talks with all opposition parties including Rehman. If the talks fail, army troops will be deployed to protect the government buildings and important installations.

However, the Ministry of Interior will make the final decision if the armed forces are to be called.

Army troops were also called during the 2014 sit-ins of PTI/Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) and Tehrik-e-Labbaik Pakistan’s (TLP).

According to Article 245, acts of armed forces cannot be challenged in court when they are called in to support the civil administration.

Special Assistant to PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said the government is trying its best to handle the issue through talks. "However, if there is a law and order situation, the government will decide according to law to protect the life and property of people,” she said.