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Pak army chief wants politicians to talk to settle protests

PTI 21 Aug 2014, 0:04:41 AM IST
Islamabad:  Pakistan's powerful army chief today asked the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to hold “meaningful talks” with the protesters to end the ongoing mass demonstration outside parliament.

General Raheel Sharif talked to Sharif's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif, who met him for the second time in two days to discuss the mass protests led by by former cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan and populist cleric Tahirul Qadri.

A leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) told PTI that the army chief had asked all stakeholders to hold “meaningful talks” to end the crisis.

It was second time that the army has intervened and urged politicians to put their house in order through talks. Military spokesman Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa in his tweet also urged talks to end the current “impasse.”

After the message by the army chief, both Khan and Qadri have shown willingness to hold talks with the government. Khan and Qadri have both alleged rigging in the polls last year and called for a re-election.

 In the elections, Sharif's PML-N had won 190 out of 342 seats. Khan's PTI got 34 seats, the third largest bloc in the legislature.

The message by the army shows a tactical change in the attitude of top military leadership towards the domestic politics, as on previous occasion the armed forced used the political unrest as an excuse to stage coups.

When politician differed in 1977 over the outcome of polls, former army chief General Ziaul Haq imposed martial law.