Zardari gets in talks with Army to defuse tensions

The presidency and the Pakistani military are engaged in parleys aimed at defusing the tensions between the two sides over memo scandal.

Islamabad: Even as temperatures have soared
in Islamabad over the Gilani-Kayani face-off, the presidency
and the Pakistani military are engaged in parleys aimed at
defusing the tensions between the two sides over memo scandal.

Away from the storm generated by the Supreme Court`s
contempt notice issued to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
yesterday for failing to reopen high-profile graft cases,
talks continued between the government and the military
establishment for defusing the situation.

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne
met President Asif Ali Zardari at the presidency yesterday for
a follow-up meeting to talks held between the President and
Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani over the weekend, the Dawn
newspaper quoted a source as saying.

A brief statement issued by the presidency said Zardari
and Wynne discussed professional matters pertaining to the
Armed forces.

However, sources told the Dawn that the two leaders
focussed on finding a way out of the ongoing impasse.
Though there was no certainty about how the civil-military
talks were progressing, there were "hints that some progress
is being made", the report said.

An unnamed Army official told the Dawn that Kayani had
made no demand during his meeting with Zardari that the Prime
Minister should retract comments about the Army chief acting
unconstitutionally in his handling of the memo issue.
The official said the meeting between the Army Chief and
the President was held "for lowering temperatures rather than
raising it".

The presidency too has denied media report that Kayani had
asked Zardari to tell the Prime Minister to explain or retract
his comments about the Army and intelligence chiefs acting in
an "unconstitutional and illegal" manner while filing
affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court.

Some observers following the civil-military dialogue were
worried that legal developments could unsettle the easing of
tensions between the two sides.

Some quarters have suggested that the military was the
force behind the legal battles in the Supreme Court over the
reopening of graft cases and the memo scandal that can
potentially cause the government`s downfall.

While speaking in the National Assembly or lower house of
Parliament last night after the House passed a pro-democracy
resolution, Gilani said the military and judiciary must
protect democracy instead of making efforts to "pack up" or
derail the democratic system.


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