Islamabad: Pakistan's Prime Minister
telephoned the top British diplomat in the country this week
expressing fears that the Pakistani Army might be about to
stage a coup, a British official and an official in Islamabad
said on Friday.
The call, which one official said was "panicky", suggests
there was or perhaps still is a genuine fear at the highest
level of the Pakistani government that Army might carry out a
coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to topple
the civilian leadership.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani asked High Commissioner
Adam Thomson for Britain to support his embattled government,
according to the officials, who didn't give their names
because of the sensitivity of the issue. It's unclear if the
British government took any action.
Such is the weakness of state institutions, Pakistani
leaders have often looked to foreign powers, especially the
United States and Gulf countries, to intervene in domestic
affairs, mediate disputes between feuding power centers or
"guarantee" agreements between them.
The Army, which has staged four coups in Pakistan's
history and is believed to consider itself the only true
custodian of the country's interests, has never liked the
civilian government headed by Gilani and President Asif Ali
But a scandal that erupted late last year, which centered
on an unsigned memo sent to Washington asking for its help in
heading off a supposed coup following the US raid that killed
Osama bin Laden, has brought the Army and civilian government
into near-open confrontation.
While most analysts say Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez
Kayani has little appetite for a coup, they say the generals
may be happy to allow the Supreme Court to dismiss the
government by "constitutional means."
First Published: Friday, January 13, 2012, 18:47