Pak PM Gilani sets the tone for peace with Army

Gilani said remarks against Army and ISI chiefs were made at a time when "there were lot of events taking place".

Islamabad: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
on Wednesday sought to put a simmering row between his government and
the military behind him, saying he had criticised the actions
of the Army and intelligence chiefs in certain circumstances
that no longer prevailed.

Referring to his comments about the Army and ISI chiefs
acting in an unconstitutional and illegal manner in the memo
scandal, Gilani said those remarks were made at a time when
"there were lot of events taking place and there were lot of
government functionaries whose issues were overlapping".

"Now it doesn`t pertain, those remarks of unconstitutional
(behaviour) or (acting) against the rules for the Army chief
and the DG ISI," he said while interacting with the media
before he left for Davos to attend the World Economic Forum.

"The country cannot function when there is confrontation
between institutions. So for the national interest, we have to
be seen on the same page," Gilani told reporters at Chaklala
military airbase in Rawalpindi.

The government had found some "discrepancies" that were
"made by certain functionaries" in handling the memo issue, he

"I`ve taken action against them," he added. The situation
now was clear and there was no ambiguity, he said.

Though Gilani did not name of the functionaries
responsible for the discrepancies, he was apparently referring
to former Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem
Lodhi, whom the premier sacked earlier this month for creating
misunderstandings between state institutions.

Gilani had triggered a storm on January 9 when he said
during an interview that Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had acted in an
unconstitutional and illegal manner by submitting affidavits
on the memo issue to the Supreme Court without getting the
Defence Minister`s approval The Army responded two days later, saying in a statement
that Gilani`s remarks could have "grievous consequences".

Shortly after the Army issued that statement, Gilani
sacked the Defence Secretary, considered a confidant of

The government and the military have been locked in a
confrontation since last year over a mysterious memo made
public by Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz.

The alleged memo sought US help to stave off a possible
coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May
last year.

In recent days, the two sides have taken steps to reduce

Steps to end the standoff were discussed during President
Asif Ali Zardari`s recent meeting with Kayani and Gen Khalid
Shameem Wynne, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Kayani and Zardari also met informally over tea on the
sidelines of a recent ceremony at the presidency.

The Army chief had skipped several official functions at
the presidency after the memo issue triggered a confrontation.
Gilani too met the Army and ISI chiefs last night to
discuss the regional security situation and the reconciliation
process in Afghanistan.

Asked about this meeting, Gilani said he discussed issues
ranging from national security to Afghanistan with the Army
and ISI chiefs.

Later, Gilani left for Davos in Switzerland along with
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Finance Minister Abdul
Hafeez Sheikh.

He said the World Economic Forum is an important platform
for discussing economic issues and promoting cooperation among

He said he would host a reception for participants of the
WEF for closer interaction with them to find ways of promoting
greater cooperation.

He said he would also meet world leaders on the sidelines
of the meet.


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