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Pakistan: Army Not Backing Anti-Government Demos

Ranger soldiers stand guard against supporters of Mohammad Tahir ul-Qadri, Sufi cleric and leader of political party Pakistan Awami Tehreek, during the Revolution March to the parliament house in Islamabad, Aug. 20, 2014.

Pakistan's Defense Minister says the country’s army is not supporting protests demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Talking to VOA Urdu Service, Khawaja Asif said the army would adhere to Pakistan's constitution that strictly prohibits the military from taking part in political activity.

Army is a government institution and it is playing its role as per the constitution and the law. Military is with the government and the constitution, not with any individual,” Asif told VOA.

Cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan, fiery cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri and their supporters have camped outside parliament in Islamabad since August 15 demanding Sharif quit, claiming the election that swept him to power last year was rigged.

Sharif’s previous government was overthrown in a military coup in 1999 and there has been speculation history may repeat itself. But Asif categorically denied such speculation.

“There is no such possibility," he said. "All the institutions, including the Army are acting within the constitution.”

Sharif says he has no intention of stepping down, saying the rallies in Islamabad will not deter his government from abiding by the “constitution and law.”

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