Pakistan’s army chief steps in to resolve political crisis

General Raheel Sharif, Imran Khan and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri.
General Raheel Sharif, Imran Khan and Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri.

Pakistan’s army chief has stepped in to resolve the political crisis in the country following sit-ins by tens of thousands of people of two parties outside parliament demanding resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Islamabad, Aug 29/Nationalturk – Pakistan’s army chief has stepped in to resolve the political crisis in the country and will act as mediator and guarantor in talks between opposition parties demanding ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the embattled PM.

Tens of thousands of workers and supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by cricketer turned politician Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of cleric and politician Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri have been staging “freedom” and “revolution” marches since August 14 outside country’s Red Zone housing Parliament, PM House, President’s House, Supreme court and embassies of some countries. They are demanding resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and poll reforms.

The government team comprising ministers held series of meetings with Imran Khan and cleric Qadri to resolve the crisis but these talks failed to bring a breakthrough. Khan and Qadri had warned to intensify their agitation to force PM Nawaz Sharif to resign.

In view of continued political uncertainty in the country, Pakistan army chief General Raheel Sharif decided to intervene and step-in after third meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif within a week.

Sources said PM urged Army chief to step in to resolve the crisis and ensure political stability in the country.

Army chief meets Imran, Qadri

The powerful army chief then held separate meetings with Imran Khan and  Qadri and listen to their demands. He has reportedly sought 24 hours from the two leaders to resolve the crisis.

After having a meeting with Army chief, Qadri addressing tens of thousands of his supporters in the Red Zone and announced that army has offered to mediate in the stand-off.

“The army chief has sought 24 hours to solve the crisis,” he told his supporters.

Qadri said army will compile and put together a package of our demands and make sure they are implemented.

He, however, said if they felt that their demands were not met then they will continue their sit-in.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan also addressed his supporters after meeting with Army chief.

“The army chief has pledged that army would ensure an unbiased judicial investigation into his allegations that Sharif rigged the May 2013 elections. I told army chief that the election probe couldn’t work unfettered while Sharif remained PM,” Khan said.

He said he would not mind about Sharif being part of the parliament and heading parliamentary party of his PML-N in the National Assembly. “However, he will have to step down as prime minister. I he was expecting some major development on Friday. Our goal is now very near” and if our demand of Prime Minister Sharif’s resignation is accepted then PTI would celebrate”.

What will army chief offer?

It now remains to be seen what army chief will offer to cleric Qadri and Imran and to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Will Nawaz Sharif step down as prime minister or continue only time will tell? However, one thing is certain that PM Nawaz Sharif has been weakened by the crisis and army has become more powerful and is now in a position to dictate terms to Sharif.

The news of army chief stepping in to resolve political crisis in the country has a positive impact with the Karachi Stock Exchange’s (KSE) benchmark 100-share index increasing by at least 900 points.

The market has been falling steadily for the past week, leaving investors baffled, but it finally took a turn for the better on Friday.

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Asia News/ NationalTurk Pakistan News


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