Pakistani PM backpedals after meeting army chief
ISLAMABAD - Reuters
Pakistani PM Gilani (C) backtracks his words on army that it acted unconstitutionally. AFP photoPakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani yesterday appeared to back down from a confrontation with the military, moving away from remarks made earlier this month that it had acted unconstitutionally in supporting a court investigation of a controversial memo, a day after meeting with army and intelligence chiefs.
“I want to dispel the impression that the military leadership acted unconstitutionally or violated rules,” said Gilani, according to state television. “The current situation cannot afford conflict among the institutions,” he added.
His comments appeared to be a bid to defuse the worst tensions between the country’s civilian leaders and the powerful military since a 1999 army-led coup and came a day after a high-level meeting with the military to discuss a possible trilateral summit on the future of Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army and intelligence chiefs met the prime minister and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar on Jan. 24, the foreign ministry said.
Gilani criticized the army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and director general of the military’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha earlier this month for filing responses in a Supreme Court investigation into the origins of mysterious memo that has pitted the military against the civilian government. In an interview with Chinese media, Gilani said the filings were “unconstitutional,” infuriating the military’s high command which responded with a stern press release, warning of “very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.” The military, which has ousted three civilian governments in coups since independence in 1947, has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its history.