News / Asia

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

A supporter of Pakistani cricket celebrity-turned-politician Imran Khan offers evening prayers during an anti-government sit-in protest in Islamabad, Aug. 29, 2014.
A supporter of Pakistani cricket celebrity-turned-politician Imran Khan offers evening prayers during an anti-government sit-in protest in Islamabad, Aug. 29, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan's military has rejected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s claims he did not ask the army to play a role in defusing days of crippling anti-government demonstrations in the capital.

The embarrassing move is likely to increase pressure on the embattled Pakistani leader and offer more fuel to protesters calling for his removal from office.

Prime Minister Sharif has come under severe criticism from pro-democracy forces in the country, largely for turning to the army in his bid to resolve what analysts see as a crisis that needs political means to settle.

Even parliamentary allies and opposition political parties not involved in the mass protests sought an explanation for what they condemned as an anti-democracy move.
 
The criticism prompted Sharif to briefly address the national parliament on Friday. during which he tried to distance himself from the move.     
 
"The army did not ask for any mediatory role neither have we requested them to do so," he said, adding that both [protest leaders Imran] Khan and [Tahir-ul] Qadri were insisting on meeting with the army chief and he did not object to it.
 
Hours later the military swiftly rejected the assertions. An army spokesman said its chief, General Raheel Sharif, “was asked by the government to play a facilitative role for resolution of the current impasse," adding the request was made during a meeting with General Sharif at the prime minister’s office the previous day.
 
Thousands of protesters led by opposition politician Imran Khan and a populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri have camped out in Islamabad for more than two weeks demanding Prime Minister Sharif step down.
 
The prime minister refuses to accept what he has criticized as an unconstitutional demand and his attempts to seek a negotiated settlement of the political turmoil have not succeeded.
 
Following Sharif’s statement and its denial by the military, Khan told his supporters late Friday he will continue protesting until the prime minister is forced out of office.  
 
The cricketer-turned politician asked why should people in Pakistan pay taxes and not indulge in corrupt practices when their leader Nawaz Sharif blatantly lies on the floor of the parliament.
 
Qadri also addressed his followers not far from Khan’s rally and criticized the prime minister for making false statements.
 
Khan leads the third largest political bloc in parliament. He is demanding a fresh vote under a reformed electoral system, alleging last year’s parliamentary polls were rigged in favor of Nawaz Sharif’s party.
 
Qadri wants charges brought against the prime minister and other top government officials, blaming them for the murder of 14 Qadri followers in a June police crackdown.
 
The army has staged several coups to seize power, a major cause critics cite for the fledgling democracy in Pakistan. They urge the stakeholders to resolve the standoff, blaming politicians’ inability to resolve such confrontations paved the way for past military interventions.  
 
Tahira Abdullah is a human rights activist and a staunch opponent of any military role in national politics.
 
“I was hoping against hope that maybe we had turned the tide and we were in a transition mode. But today I have realized we have not turned the tide, we are not in a transition mode, we have gone back another 40 years in Pakistani history," said Abdullah.

Pakistan last year marked its first ever democratic transition of power from one elected government to another when Nawaz Sharif took office after his party won a majority in the parliamentary elections. But his decision to try former coup leader and retired general, Pervez Musharraf, for high treason, many believe, has strained his ties with the military.

 

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mahmood from: Rawalpindi
August 30, 2014 4:09 AM
PM has damaged his moral & political position in 150 seconds yesterday. He was in driving seat before that while mob leaders had little for face saving. The fiery speech of Opposition leader Mr. Khurshid in National Assembly in favour of constitution caused a stir & PM in a bid to endorse his views denied his a day before request to Army that got immediately contradicted by ISPR on twitter. Mr. Khurshid Shah was man of day yesterday.

by: nasim raza from: Rawalpindi
August 30, 2014 12:49 AM
In fact this is not the case. Efforts are just started. It has been 17 days since the protest was launched. It is PM who requested the Army to facilitate the parties because of deadlock. Unfortunately, his request which he made with good faith is politicized and it will delay the process more.

by: blue_man
August 29, 2014 3:29 PM
Really pathetic attempt to gain hits by making an attractive title but the article has nothing pertaining to it ... and the only reason because this has not happened. The process is ongoing, the author should do more research before posting crap like this.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs