Pakistan’s military to mediate country’s political crisis

DPA Islamabad | Updated on November 25, 2017

Pakistan’s powerful military stepped in Thursday to mediate between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the opponents leading protests to unseat him, easing pressure on the embattled premier but raising questions about his authority in future.

Tens of thousands of protesters led by former cricketing star Imran Khan and Pakistani-Canadian cleric Tahirul Qadri have been camping for two weeks outside the parliament in the capital Islamabad demanding Sharif’s resignation.

Both protest leaders, who earlier called off talks with the government, said Thursday they would resume dialogue after Army Chief General Raheel Sharif offered to mediate.

“We will negotiate on the assurance of the chief of the army staff,” Qadri told around 15,000 supporters.

Khan later confirmed that the military had offered to act as mediator in talks with the government.

A military spokesman said both protest leaders would hold a meeting with General Sharif, who met the prime minister earlier in the day.

The military’s intervention in a political crisis is described as a “soft coup” in a country that was ruled by generals for half of its history.

Political analysts said that by involving the military, Premier Sharif had effectively ceded control over security and foreign policies, which are thought to be army’s domains.

Khan led thousands of supporters into Islamabad on August 15 from the eastern Lahore city to demand Sharif’s resignation, citing irregularities in last year’s parliamentary elections.

Qadri wants a complete overhaul of the electoral system.

Neither opposition leader has been able to mobilize public beyond their core followers, but their persistence has been a challenge for the government.

Published on August 29, 2014

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