Islamabad: Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza
Gilani on Thursday in an unprecedented tongue-lashing against the
powerful military said it is "unacceptable" if the Army
"considers itself a State within State" and warned that
"conspiracies" are being hatched to "pack up" his government.
Prime Minister Gilani also strongly criticised the Army
for failing to detect Osama bin Laden's presence in the
country and said government firmly stood with the institutions
and fully protected them after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Addressing an official function organised to commemorate
the birth anniversary of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali
Jinnah, Gilani said, "I want to make it clear today that there
are intrigues and conspiracies going on and the conspiracy is
to pack up the elected government."
"I want to tell them that whether we are in government or
opposition or among the people, we will fight for the rights
of the people of Pakistan," he said without naming those who
were behind the conspiracies.
People will have to decide whether they want "elected
people or a dictatorship", he added as talk of a rift between
his government and the military gathers pace.
The premier made a veiled reference to the differences
between his government and the Army, saying "no institution
can be a state within a state".
He added: "Nobody can say they are not under the
government. Every institution of this country, including the
Ministry of Defence, is under the Prime Minister.
"There should be no ambiguity that anybody can claim that
I am independent...If any individual thinks they are not under
the government, they are mistaken.
"They are under the government and will remain under the
government because we are the elected, chosen representatives
of the people of Pakistan."
Speaking later in the National Assembly or lower house of
Parliament, Gilani further criticised Pakistan's security
Prime Minister's unusual remarks came in the backdrop of
tensions between the civilian government and the powerful
military over the memogate scandal.
Responding to a point of order of Leader of the Opposition
Choudhary Nisar Ali Khan regarding reply of the Defence
Ministry to the Supreme Court that the Army and the ISI are
not subordinate to the ministry, the Prime Minister said, "if
the Army considers itself a State within State, then it is
unacceptable," Pakistan's state-run APP news agency reported.
"If they (Army) say that they are not under the Ministry
of Defence, then we should get out of this slavery, then this
parliament has no importance, this system has no importance,
then you are not sovereign," he said.
Referring to questions being asked in some quarters about
visas issued by the government to US security personnel,
Gilani told lawmakers: "We want to ask which visa did he (bin
Laden) use to come (to Pakistan)? How he entered Pakistan?
That was the cause for which parliament passed a resolution,
why the security was not taken care of."
Gilani, who appeared exasperated, told Parliament that his
government had stood by the security establishment when it
faced American pressure over bin Laden's presence in Pakistan,
last month's NATO air strike and the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
"In the worst circumstances we doubled their salaries.
They have to be accountable to Parliament," he said.
The differences between the government and the military
are linked to the Memogate scandal.
The Army and the ISI have urged the Supreme Court to
conduct a probe into the alleged memo made public by
Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz that had sought US
help to prevent a feared coup in Pakistan after the killing of
However, the government has challenged the apex court's
jurisdiction to hear a batch of petitions seeking a probe into
the scandal, saying the matter is already being investigated
by a parliamentary panel.
The government has said President Asif Ali Zardari and
Gilani played no role in drafting or delivering the alleged
In his remarks, Gilani said his government had the
"highest regard and respect for the Army" because it had stood
up against terrorism and extremists, but made it clear that no
institution could function without the support of the people.
Pakistan has been ruled by the military for almost half of
its history and no elected leader has been able to complete
his full term.
First Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011, 16:22