ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa will hold an important meeting today to discuss the situation in Islamabad, sources said.
The two will discuss the sit-in being held on the Faizabad Interchange by a religious group, which has entered its 21st today despite the commencement of a security forces operation on Saturday.
The army chief was on a visit to the United Arab Emirates and cut short his trip to reach the country last night, sources said.
The operation that had commenced early Saturday morning to clear Faizabad Interchange from protestors staging a sit-in was put on hold later in the day — suspended at approximately 2:30 PM local time, according to reports.
The situation, nevertheless, remains tense in the federal capital. Protests in various parts of the country have also erupted after the operation started.
The protests are being held against the change in the finality-of-Prophethood oath in the law when the government passed the Elections Act 2017 last month.
The change — dubbed a clerical error by the government — was immediately fixed as an amendment was passed later.
The Ministry of Interior issued early Saturday night a statutory regulatory order (SRO) to authorise the deployment of the Pakistan Army to aid civil power to control the law and order situation in the Islamabad Capital Territory.
Sources said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi took the decision to summon the Army and the interior ministry issued the notification after the premier’s approval.
In response, however, the Pakistan Army said while its troops are “fully ready to perform the assigned task in line with its institutional obligations”, there are “few aspects meriting deliberation prior to [the deployment”.
The police force “has not been optimally utilized to its full capability” in “dealing with [the] protestors”, the Army noted.
In addition, “Pakistan Rangers, backing […] police as 2nd tier force physically deployed with police in Islamabad, have not been given written instructions as agreed for their employment.”
The Army added that its troops are “traditionally not just used for dispersal of crowd/protestors but to quell commotion”.