ISLAMABAD: Amid severe by opposition parties, including Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), a statement issued from PM House on Saturday stated the decision to revoke the use of Article 245 in the federal capital is not being taken.
Earlier reports suggested that the government was seriously reconsidering its decision to call upon the the army through Article 245 to aid civilian law-enforcement agencies in securing the capital over the next three months.
The reports of a reassessment comes a day after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that a notification to requisition the services of the armed forces under Article 245 of the Constitution had been issued on Friday.
A government official who requested anonymity said that the core members of the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) are mulling over the interior minister’s announcement and a statement will be issued once a decision is made. It is expected that the deputy commissioner Islamabad will request for more troops as per regular rules, without the government invoking Article 245.
When contacted by this correspondent, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed downplayed Chaudhry Nisar’s reference to Article 245. “This is not a fresh decision,” he told Dawn. “The military is already present in Islamabad; Article 245 was going to give legal cover to the presence of the military.”
Military sources said that no extra troops will be deployed under Article 245. “The only occasion where the 111 brigade will send extra troops is at 10:30pm on August 13 [a night before Independence Day] when 150 soldiers will hold a ceremony outside Parliament House as per tradition. This ceremony takes place every year in the presence of the army, navy and air chiefs, where soldiers salute the national flag with the anthem also being played.”
Article 245 allows the government to summon the military’s support, while also suspending the regular function of high courts during the enforcement of the legislation. The validity of any direction issue by the government with regard to this article cannot be challenged.
Article 245 of the Constitution which pertains to the functions Pakistan’s Armed forces, taken from the National Assembly website:
(1) The Armed Forces shall, under the directions of the Federal Government, defend Pakistan against external aggression or threat of war, and, subject to law, act in aid of civil power when called upon to do so.
(2) The validity of any direction issued by the Federal Government under clause (1) shall not be called in question in any court.
(3) A High Court shall not exercise any jurisdiction under Article 199 in relation to any area in which the Armed Forces of Pakistan are, for the time being, acting in aid of civil power in pursuance of Article 245: Provided that this clause shall not be deemed to affect the jurisdiction of the High Court in respect of any proceeding pending immediately before the day on which the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power.
(4) Any proceeding in relation to an area referred to in clause (3) instituted on or after the day the Armed Forces start acting in aid of civil power and pending in any High Court shall remain suspended for the period during which the Armed Forces are so acting.
Nisar’s announcement on Friday was heavily criticised by political groups who viewed it as a panicked measure in the face of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) anti-government rally marching to the capital on August 14.
The main criticism had come from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) with Senator Farhatullah Babar, spokesperson for former president and the party’s co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, saying the decision would have serious consequences for the people and the country.
“This means not only a failure of the civil administration, but also the total suspension of the jurisdiction of the high courts. Worse still, in practical terms, it also means the setting up of military courts, which cannot be permitted,” Babar had stated late on Friday.