Islamabad: A day after anti-government protests led by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) leader Tahir-ul-Qadri turned violent injuring hundreds and killing three, Army cautioned against the use of force, urging a timely political solution to uphold the democracy.
As the crisis escalated with no let-up in protests, top Army commanders presided by Gen Raheel Sharif, met at General Headquarters on Sunday night, expressing serious concern at the existing political crisis that had resulted in blood-spilling and loss of lives.
“Further use of force will only aggravate the problem.... the situation should be resolved politically without wasting any time and without recourse to violent means,” said the Army in a statement, according to ISPR.
Though urging both the sides to abide by democracy and peaceful means, the Army dropped a slight hint of what it will resort to when it said, “The Army remains remains committed to playing its part in ensuring security of the state and will never fall short of meeting national aspirations”.
PM Nawaz Sharif, who has remained defiant, rejecting the demands for his resignation, urged the protesters to resume negotiations, however he condemned the attack on the state building calling it undemocratic. Sharif added that the government had adopted a path of peace by talking to the protesters, but was betrayed as they marched to his residence without a prior assurance of not to do so.
Meanwhile, many protesters on Sunday continued what started on Saturday night, clashing with police, hurling slingshots and torching several vehicles and shipping containers.
The protests had turned violent yesterday night when thousands of protesters led by Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri, marching on to barge into the PM's residence.
PTI chief Imran Khan egged on the protesters to continue the battle and slammed the government crackdown on protesters as “fascist”.
"If those responsible 4 police brutality on Constitution Ave are not punished, ppl of Pak shd expect more fascist govt violence against them," Imran said in a tweet.
If those responsible 4 police brutality on Constitution Ave are not punished, ppl of Pak shd expect more fascist govt violence against them.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 31, 2014
Imran also slammed Nawaz for having ordered the filing of a first information report (FIR), based on lies, against him, reported the Dawn.
Earlier today, it was Imran who had called for lodging of an FIR against PM Nawaz Sharif and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan for ordering the use of lethal tear gas on protesters, that left hundreds injured and three dead.
Meanwhile, apologising for the "excessive use of force", SSP Islamabad Police Asmatullah said, “Islamabad will never use excessive force against protesters. We will never use force against women and children who are among the protesters”.
“However, police will protect the red lines set in law," he said.
In what is the biggest challenge to the 15-month old Nawaz Sharif government, both Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri have been leading anti-government protests outside the Parliament, demanding the PM's resignation for more than two weeks now, demanding his resignation on the claims that last year`s elections were rigged.
The anti-government protests threaten Pakistan`s political stability which has in past seen several military coups.