Pakistani premier fears coup conspiracy, hits out at army
Pakistani PM Yousuf Raza Gilani alleges a conspiracy to oust his civilian government, a sign of growing tension with the army over a secret memo sent to the US. AP photoConspirators are plotting to bring down Pakistan’s government, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said yesterday, delivering an unprecedented tirade against the powerful military.
Gilani angrily denied the government was subservient to the army, which has long been considered the chief arbiter of power in Pakistan, as his administration grapples with a damaging scandal. “Nobody is above the law, all the institutions are subservient to the Parliament,” Gilani said.
“I want to make it clear today [that] conspiracies are being hatched here to pack up the elected government,” Gilani told a gathering at the National Arts Gallery, without naming anyone.
Gilani called the army “disciplined,” saying they “follow the constitution” and “will remain under the government.”
Pressures are at boiling point over a memo, allegedly written with approval from President Asif Ali Zardari, which asked for U.S. help to prevent a feared military coup after Osama bin Laden was killed in May.
Rampant speculation that Zardari could be forced out of office over the scandal and illness has refused to die despite his return to Islamabad following two weeks of medical treatment in Dubai.
Pakistan’s army is also fed up with the unpopular Zardari and wants him out of office – albeit through legal means and without a repeat of the coups that are a hallmark of the country’s 64 years of independence, according to military sources.
“Who isn’t fed up with Zardari? It’s not just the opposition and the man on the street but people within the government, too,” said one military source who asked not to be named. “But there has to be a proper way. No action is being planned by the army. Even if we tried, it would be very unpopular and not just with the government and the opposition, but most Pakistanis, too.”
Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.