I gave permission for COAS to engage two leaders: PM

Step taken on protesting parties’ request: Nisar

Says govt allowed facilitation, it should not be interpreted beyond that

ISLAMABAD: As criticism mounts over the government’s move to involve the military in the ongoing political crisis, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told the parliament on Friday that it was Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan who requested a meeting with General Raheel Sharif.

Nawaz said he gave permission for the army chief to engage the two leaders and play the role of mediator.

He said all political forces including PML-N and PPP have rendered matchless sacrifices for restoration and strengthening of democracy and he himself worked with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto for this great cause. He appreciated the statements of Syed Khurshid Shah and Mehmood Khan Achakzai and said these are voice of his own heart.

He said the government and positions come and go, but he cannot compromise on the principles.

Nawaz’s revelation came after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan justified the military’s involvement as the only option out of the deadlock.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, the interior minister lamented that the protesting groups were unwilling to accept any 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 what option did the government have?”

“Let me make clear that this step [to involve army] was taken on a request by the protesting parties…the government allowed this facilitation, it should not be interpreted beyond that,” he added.

Emphasising that the army was on the government’s side, Nisar claimed, the protesting parties are using the army. “They used the name of the army.”

“This is not PTI or PAT’s army, this is Pakistan‘s army. And instead of being in North Waziristan it is standing here [red zone]. And these parties [PAT and PTI] have brought them here,” he said.

Nisar Ali Khan did not mince words as he criticised elements “acting under the garb of democracy” whose agenda seemed to be “chaos” and “an overthrow of the political setup”.

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