News / Asia

Pakistan Army Steps in Try to Resolve Political Crisis

A supporter of the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party Imran Khan, a former international cricketer, cheers while listening to him speak during what has been dubbed a "freedom march" in Islamabad, August 28, 2014.
A supporter of the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party Imran Khan, a former international cricketer, cheers while listening to him speak during what has been dubbed a "freedom march" in Islamabad, August 28, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

Pakistan’s powerful military has stepped in to act as “mediator and guarantor” to broker a deal between embattled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and two anti-government leaders calling for his ouster.

For days, opposition politician Imran Khan and a firebrand cleric, Tahir-ul Qadri, have been separately camping out in the heart of the Pakistani capital along with tens of thousands of anti-government supporters, demanding the prime minister step down.  

Prime Minister Sharif refuses to do so, criticizing the calls for his ouster as unconstitutional.  He has tried unsuccessfully to resolve the political impasse through several rounds of negotiations with protesting leaders.

Khan, who leads the third largest political bloc in parliament, is calling for another vote under a reformed electoral system.  The cricketer-turned-politician alleges last year’s parliamentary polls were rigged to bring Sharif and his party to power.

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. Although the government allowed police on Thursday to institute a criminal case after a delay of more than two months, Qadri rejected the move and came up with new demands.

Late Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif asked the powerful military "to play its role" in defusing the mass protests.

Khan and Qadri announced the development to their supporters.  During a late night speech, Khan told a cheering crowd that Army chief General Raheel Sharif contacted them and asked them to give him 24 hours to solve the crisis.  

Khan told demonstrators "either festivities will be held on Friday or the anti-government campaign will be intensified."  

For his part, Qadri thanked the military for coming forward to try to peacefully resolve the crisis.

The cleric said the army chief offered to act as a “mediator and guarantor for compiling and putting together a package of demands from both sides and will make sure they are implemented.”

After talks with Qadri and General Sharif in the nearby garrison city of Rawalpindi, Khan returned to the rally venue and said his party will not back down from its main demand that Prime Minister Sharif resign before a judicial probe is opened into election fraud charges. 

Neither the army nor government officials discussed details of the talks.

The army is coming to the center of Pakistani politics at a time when the country is experiencing a sustained period of democratic rule. Sharif’s election as prime minister last year marked the first democratic transfer of power from one elected government to another.

Critics believe Prime Minister Sharif’s decision to try the last military coup leader, former president Pervez Musharraf, for high treason, and his attempts to take control of Pakistan’s policies toward rival India and Afghanistan, have strained his ties with the military.

While the army is unlikely to grab power at a time when chronic economic, security and energy challenges are facing Pakistan, some analysts do not rule out the possibility of the military’s involvement in encouraging the anti-government protests in order to retain its share in key national matters.  

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Comment Sorting
Comment on this forum (3)
Comments
     
by: Ali Nizamuddin from: Houston, Texas
August 29, 2014 9:16 AM
Today is sad day in Pakistan. We have a paper tiger as Prime Minister in Pakistan and army has taken over the country. The army will not let it go, since they are used extreme lavish life style. Some one, please someone come and help poor Pakistanis who are starving, without clean water, electrical power and medicine. Politicians and generals are stealing money by Billions.


by: Erik from: UAE
August 29, 2014 6:29 AM
How can this be a Democratic process when the Army becomes the mediator. You will never hear of a dude become Prime Minister of his country more than once, in any other country including India, which is truly a Democratic Nation. Nawaz Sharif is a failed leader because he has become Prime Minister of his country thrice without living up to his promises while setting the record for nepotism and kick backs. A real Democratic solution would be if Nawaz Sherif resigns on the face of this Mass Protest because real democracy is for the People, by the People


by: Nauman from: Lahore
August 29, 2014 12:48 AM
Pak Army did not "step in" our so called government begged them to step in

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.

The Flying Greek

Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid