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|Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani|
“The army chief complained to the president about the prime minister’s statements, and said they needed to be either clarified or withdrawn”, a source told Reuters.
The senior military source told Reuters ‘such statements were divisive and made the country more vulnerable’. As angry as Kayani is, the source said, the council of senior military commanders is even more angry.
There are no signs yet that a coup is being seriously considered, however, reflecting the changed political calculations in Pakistan since civilians took power in 2008.
American stooge Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani this week criticised General Kayani and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, for filing court papers in a case involving a mysterious memo that has pitted the military against the civilian government.
In an interview with the Chinese media, Gilani said the filings were ‘unconstitutional’, infuriating the military’s high command, who issued a stern press release. “There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled”, it said.
“This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.” Gilani further infuriated the army on Wednesday by sacking the defence secretary, Lieutenant General (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, for ‘gross misconduct and illegal action which created misunderstanding’ between institutions.
Lodhi was the most senior civil servant responsible for military affairs, a post usually seen as the military’s main advocate in the civilian bureaucracy.
“There is a lot of pressure by the main corps commanders on the army chief regarding the statements of the prime minister”, the source said.
Pakistanis rallied behind the military after a November 26 cross-border Nato air attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers on the frontier with Afghanistan, driving ties with Washington to their lowest point in years.
The army’s fury is cause for serious concern for the civilian government, and Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari went on a charm offensive on Saturday.
Earlier, Zardari met Kayani in a similar attempt to mend fences. “The current security situation was discussed”, a presidential spokesman said, without giving any details.
Pakistan’s politicians and media pundits have been abuzz with rumours of a possible coup since the memo controversy erupted in October. The disputed memo - allegedly from Zardari’s government, seeking US help in reining in the generals - has pushed relations between the civilian leadership and the military, to their lowest point since the last military coup in 1999.
The latest crisis also troubles Washington, which wants smooth ties between the civilian and military leaders so that Pakistan can help efforts to stabilise neighbouring Afghanistan, a top priority for President Barack Obama.
Pakistan Cyber Force