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's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid