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Politics Coup Fears Resurface In Pakistan As Gilani-Kayani Spat Turns Ugly

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Coup fears resurface in Pakistan as Gilani-Kayani spat turns ugly

Omar Farooq Khan, TNN | Jan 12, 2012, 01.50AM IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan army on Wednesday warned of "grievous consequences" over accusations by the country's prime minister that the top military brass had violated the constitution.

Yousaf Raza Gilani also sacked the defence secretary, considered close to the military, in an apparent ***-for-tat move that worsened ties between the wobbly civilian government of Asif Ali Zardari and the powerful military that has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its existence.

Tensions have risen since a memo seeking US help to prevent a military coup in May and rein in the country's powerful khaki establishment came to light in November. Pak-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz had claimed to have delivered the memo to the Americans that former envoy to US Husain Haqqani had allegedly authored at Zardari's behest. Zardari can face impeachment if his links to the memo are established.

Fired for Kayani statement

Shortly before news that defense secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi had been sacked, the military released a statement saying allegations leveled against the army chief Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and director-general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Ahmed Shuja Pasha were very serious and will have grave consequences.

"There can be no allegation more serious than what the PM has leveled against the chief of army staff and the DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country," a statement released by the military said.

The handout stated that PM Yousaf Raza Gilani gave an interview to the People's Daily Online when Kayani was on an official visit to China. Gilani had said that replies of Kayani and Pasha in the SC without the prior approval of the government in connection to the alleged memo controversy were unconstitutional and illegal.

The army has confronted the government over the memo in the SC that has constituted a three-member commission to probe the scandal that threatens to implicate Zardari. The government had asked the court to dismiss a plea seeking a judicial probe into the memo, while Kayani and Pasha in their statements took the opposite position, saying the memo was a conspiracy against the army.

The statement, issued after Kayani returned from China, maintained it had passed its response through the defence ministry to the court in accordance with the law.

Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired general seen as an army representative within the civilian setup, was dismissed for the "misunderstanding" between Gilani and the top brass. "PM has terminated the contract of defence secretary for gross misconduct," said an official. Lodhi was fired for his role in submitting the statements to the court.

Lodhi was regarded to be more powerful than the defence minister because of his direct ties to the army high command. Nargis Sethi, considered close to Gilani, would replace Lodhi. The PM needs the defence secretary on his side if he sacks the army or intelligence chiefs.

Analysts said the removal of Lodhi and Sethi's appointment shows the government is not in a defensive mode. "Firing Lodhi may be a first step by the government in removing the chief of army staff and the DG ISI," political analyst Ikram Sehgal said.

source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...yani-spat-turns-ugly/articleshow/11454493.cms
Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
January 13,Friday 2012 9:18 PM

'Panicky' Pakistan PM Gilani called UK, fearing coup: Officials

Pakistan's prime minister telephoned the top British diplomat in the country this week expressing fears that the Pakistani army might be about to stage a coup, a British official and an official in Islamabad said on Friday.

The call, which one official said was "panicky", suggests there was-or perhaps still is-a genuine fear at the highest level of the Pakistani government that army might carry out a coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to topple the civilian leadership.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani asked High Commissioner Adam Thomson for Britain to support his embattled government, according to the officials, who didn't give their names because of the sensitivity of the issue. It's unclear if the British government took any action.

Such is the weakness of state institutions, Pakistani leaders have often looked to foreign powers, especially the United States and Gulf countries, to intervene in domestic affairs, mediate disputes between feuding power centers or "guarantee" agreements between them.

The army, which has staged four coups in Pakistan's history and is believed to consider itself the only true custodian of the country's interests, has never liked the civilian government headed by Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.

But a scandal that erupted late last year, which centered on an unsigned memo sent to Washington asking for its help in heading off a supposed coup following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has brought the army and civilian government into near-open confrontation.

While most analysts say army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has little appetite for a coup, they say the generals may be happy to allow the Supreme Court to dismiss the government by "constitutional means.''

A Supreme Court commission is probing the memo affair, which in theory could lead to Zardari's ouster.

The court has also ordered the government to open corruption investigations into Zardari dating back years. The government has refused. Earlier this week, the court said it could dismiss Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani over the case. Judges are convening Monday for what could be a decisive session.

While its lawmakers are widely seen as both corrupt and ineffectual, they unlike the army and the judges _ have some legitimacy because they were elected to office. Pakistan history of successive military coups and interference in the democratic process by the courts and the army are main cause of the country's current malaise, proponents of democracy say.

The nuclear-armed country is facing a host of problems, among them near economic collapse and a virulent al-Qaida- and Taliban-led insurgency. The fight against the militant has been complicated by allegations that the country's main Inter-Services Intelligence is supporting some of the insurgents.

On Friday, a government-appointed commission investigating the unsolved murder of a journalist last year said that the ISI needed to be more "law-abiding." The report did not find enough evidence to name any perpetrators in the death of Saleem Shahzad, who was killed after he told friends he had been threatened by the ISI.

The commission called on the ISI to be made more accountable to the government through internal reviews and oversight by parliament. It said its interactions with reporters should be closely monitored.

Also Friday, militants assaulted a police station in the northwestern city of Peshawar, shooting dead three officers and wounding nine others, said police officer Saeed Khan.

The Pakistani Taliban have carried out hundreds of attacks on the country's army and other security forces since 2007. The attack came a day after militants armed with guns and grenades killed four Pakistani soldiers in an ambush in the South Waziristan tribal area.

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Hindustan Times
January 13, 2012

First Published: 22:46 IST(13/1/2012)
Last Updated: 22:48 IST(13/1/2012)

Where there's nobody home

If Pakistan were not home to the largest collection of terrorists in the world, possessor of a nuclear weapons {censored}nal and right next door to India, its present political contortions could almost pass as comical. In which country would a president fly overseas to attend a wedding at the height of a constitutional crisis?

Unfortunately, Pakistani politics is no laughing matter because it is the most visible symptom of the deeper malaise that afflicts the country. The present crisis has revealed all the known flaws in the Pakistani political system, but in greater relief than before. One, a military that refuses to allow any civilian leadership to genuinely run the country; Two, a polity where institutions are so weak that personalities and personality clashes are all that matters. In this case, the character of the Supreme Court justice is arguably the most decisive issue. Third, a leadership that lacks the internal coherence to find compromises. Hence the propensity of Pakistani interest groups to seek the interference of outside powers, whether the United States, Saudi Arabia and increasingly China. Four, an electorate where feudal interests still dominate.

Political parties can be created overnight by anyone with sufficient money. And the list goes on. There can be little argument that the Pakistan military is largely responsible for this state of affairs. The military has worked assiduously to ensure that the civilian political leadership is weak and that the institutions of government are ineffective. It has intervened so often that Pakistan has never been able to have two civilian governments hand power to each other through an election. The men in khaki have a single motive: to ensure that they are the final authority in all matters in Pakistan. The present crisis shows that this policy is now delivering decreasing returns.

The army may be unhappy with the present civilian leadership, but it is also unable and unwilling to take over itself. The civilians, on the other hand, are using tricks taken from the army’s own shelf including trying to divide the corps commanders, use foreign governments and claiming the military is too close to America. The result is the present chaos where the military is trying to stage a constitutional coup through the courts. The president is trying to stage a coup within the military. And the Supreme Court is simply out to settle scores on behalf of its chief justice. The final tragedy is that there are few things going right in Pakistan: its western provinces are in flames, its exchequer is empty, it is still reeling from the effects of last year’s floods and its internal social problems are mounting. But its leadership is playing musical chairs to a tune solely of their own making.





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