Islamabad: In the backdrop of fired-up political scenario in Pakistan over a clash between the government and the military, Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on Thursday met with his top commanders, leaving the speculations of a military coup intact.
Kayani held a meeting with his top commanders at the General Headquarters in the Garrison city of Rawalpindi. The meeting was attended by both the Principal
Staff Officers, or senior generals serving at the General Headquarters, and the Corps Commanders, who head formations across the country, sources said.
The Army yesterday had also brought in Brigadier Sarfaraz Ali as the new commander of Rawalpindi-based Army unit that has traditionally played a vital role in military coups.
The speculations of a military takeover also gain momentum as the US says that it has not sought or received any assurances from the Pakistani Army that it would not stage a coup.
"I'm not aware that we've sought any assurances, and I don't think we're aware that we've been given any. This is a matter for Pakistani officials and the government leaders there, military and civilian, to work out," said Navy Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
President Zardari on the other hand, was on a scheduled visit to Dubai today and he is reported to be coming back to Pakistan on Friday.
The one-day trip came after a confrontation between Pakistan's civilian leaders and the military over a probe into the government's role in a scandal centred on a mysterious memo that sought US help in curbing the army's power.
The beleaguered Pakistan government finds itself pitted against three sides with Army already incensed over Gilani’s criticisms; the judiciary frowning at the President and the PM for not following a court order that seeks to reopen the graft cases against Zardari; and thirdly the Opposition leader Imran Khan lashing out at the government led by President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, demanding their resignation.
The military spokesman Major Muhammad Ali Diyal declined to say what the talks at Army headquarters were about, but the meeting is likely to fuel speculation about the Army's next move at a time when it appears outraged by the government.
On Wednesday, the Prime Minister had fired the defence secretary and the military issued an unusual statement warning of "grievous consequences".
The Islamabad High Court also admitted a petition seeking to block any attempt by the government to sack Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha over the memo scandal.
Though the petitioner Maulvi Iqbal Haider is considered a "dubious character" by the Supreme Court and has been barred from entering the apex court's premises by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry for filing frivolous petitions.
The four year old Zardari-headed administration has been reeling from one crisis to another since it came to power in 2008.
The turmoil seems to deepen as reports on Thursday said Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani might resign.
According to reports, the Pakistani government is mulling calling a vote of confidence for President Asif Ali Zardari and PM Gilani.
The country’s judiciary too seems to be staring hard at the already cornered government with the Supreme Court pulling up Zardari and Gilani for not reopening the graft cases against Zardari.
The government had also convened a special Parliament session today in the same regard.
At the heart of the whole political crisis that is stirring up Pakistan nowadays, is a memo, delivered to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen by Pakistani American Mansoor Ijaz seeking to prevent a military coup which President Asif Ali Zardari allegedly feared after the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by US commandos in May 2011.
First Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012, 10:23