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
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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More