In a veiled reference to the massive protest led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F), the Pakistan Army on Wednesday said that it was “too busy” in matters of national security to get involved in any political issue. Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor in an interview to Hum News said that army had nothing to do with the politics of sit-ins.
We are too busy in matters of national security and defence to become involved in things like these and respond to these allegations, he said.
He rejected the impression that army was against the government when Imran Khan staged a similar sit-in in 2014 and said that the military had supported the government.
Ghafoor also rejected Army’s meddling in the electoral process.
It neither has any role in the country’s electoral process nor has it any desire to do so, he said.
The protesters led by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has been demanding Khan's resignation, accusing him of "rigging" the 2018 general elections. The crowd further swelled in Islamabad, as supporters of opposition parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People Party (PPP), joined the anti-government protest rally.
Rehman launched the "Azadi March" along with leaders of other opposition parties on October 27 from the southern Sindh province.
Meanwhile, Pakistani authorities have made elaborate security arrangements to control the sea of protesters. Main roads have been completely or partially blocked by placing shipping containers. Barbed wires have been used as hurdles to prevent protesters if they try to move towards the Red Zone that includes key official buildings and diplomatic enclave.
Additional police and paramilitary personnel have also been deployed in Islamabad to prevent any violence. The government deployed army personnel in sensitive places in the capital.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has already denounced the protest, saying that the opposition parties were trying to blackmail him. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party alleged that the protest was promoted by the PML-N and the PPP to force the government to release its top leaders, currently held in jails. Khan and his party has ruled out his resignation but showed readiness to accept any other demand to improve election system or system of governance.