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Pakistan army chief intervenes in political crisis

Published on Aug 29, 2014 2:28 AM
Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, addresses supporters while a boy gestures in front of the Parliament house building during the Revolution March in Islamabad on August 28, 2014. He told his supporters that talks to resolve the crisis had begun with army chief Raheel Sharif mediating. -- PHOTO REUTERS

ISLAMABAD (AFP) - Pakistan’s army chief was named mediator on Thursday in a fortnight-long political crisis, fuelling speculation that the military could use the protests against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to re-assert its dominance over the civilian government.

Thousands of demonstrators led by populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri and politician Imran Khan have been camped outside the parliament building in Islamabad since August 15, demanding the prime minister step down.

Qadri and Khan announced General Raheel Sharif would mediate in the stand-off after the cleric earlier on Thursday rejected the government’s decision to launch a murder investigation that named the prime minister as a suspect, saying it was not enough.

“The Pakistan army chief has officially asked us if it will be acceptable to the Azadi (freedom) march if he becomes a mediator and guarantor,” Qadri told followers outside parliament Thursday.

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