Pakistan Army
Terrorism to be vanquished from Pakistan in 2016, Picture: Pakistan Army Chief General Raheel Sharif.Reuters

The Pakistan Army has stepped in to 'mediate' the weeks-long impasse between the Sharif government and opposition leaders Imran Khan and Tahir ul-Qadri, thus bringing back memories of military influence in the nation's politics.

Ever since strong protests began against Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif earlier this month, there have been speculations of an impending military coup, given that the Sharif government is at its weakest.

While the Army so far has not been involved in the crisis, Army chief General Raheel Sharif summoned Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan and cleric Tahir-ul- Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) on Friday, the Press Trust of India reported.

According to the Pakistan Army spokesperson, it was Sharif himself who asked the army to intervene in the political crisis, a revelation that has come as an embarrassment to the government.

Sharif had earlier claimed that "neither had I asked army nor the armed forces sought a role in the present political crisis".

But army spokesperson Major General Asim Bajwa took to Twitter to leave Sharif red-faced.

"COAS (chief of army staff) was asked by the govt to play facilitative role for resolution of current impasse, in yesterday's meeting, at #PM House," he tweeted.

Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar later admitted to the government's role.

"We asked who the protesting parties trusted to which they said they trusted the army. On this the government gave the army the responsibility to facilitate the process within the constitutional and legal ambit," PTI quoted him as saying.

This further shows that Sharif has been pushed to the wall to have taken this step of bringing in the army, knowing he had never shared good vibes with the military ever since he was toppled in a coup in 1999.

Reports had earlier suggested that the Army's bargain for intervening in the crisis was that the government secede control of security affairs and strategic foreign policy decisions. It is not clear if such an agreement has taken place.

What has further brought the spotlight on the army is the heated relations between Pakistan and India that have soured drastically over this month, something that could serve the army well for taking charge.

As the crisis in Pakistan continues to worsen, and as the Pakistan Army gets more influence over negotiations between the two warring sides, it could only be a matter of time before it will be calling the shots to the government.

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