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Pakistan's Military Refutes Sharif Denial On Crisis Mediation

  • RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal

Pakistan's military has refuted a statement from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in which the government leader denied asking the army to mediate in the country's political crisis.

Pakistan's military press office says "the government" asked Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif, to "play a facilitative role for the resolution of the current impasse" during an August 28 "meeting at Prime Minister House."

The prime minister told parliament on August 29 that reports saying his government asked the army to mediate in the standoff were false.

Sharif told lawmakers that neither he nor the army had "sought any role in the mediation."

Tahir ul-Qadri, a populist cleric, and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan have led separate antigovernment protests in Islamabad since August 15 to demand the prime minister's resignation.

On August 28, Qadri and Khan said they had agreed to negotiate with the army.

There have been several meetings between the opposition and government representatives since thousands of protesters on August 19 tore down barricades in central Islamabad and set up an encampment outside the parliament.

But those previous talks all broke down without reaching an agreement.

With reporting by AP and Reuters