Pak Prez to meet Kayani to allay concerns over US aid bill
Lahore: With Pakistan Army expressing serious concern over some of the provisions in the US aid bill, President Asif Ali Zardari will hold talks with its chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to allay the military's concerns over conditions attached to the legislation.
Pakistan People's Party spokesperson Fauzia Wahab said the party will work to address the military's concerns instead of adopting a path of confrontation on the issue as some elements want to create a rift between the armed forces and the ruling party.
"President Asif Ali Zardari will talk to Army Chief Gen Kayani on the matter," she said.
"President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani believe that some political elements want a confrontation between the army and the PPP over this issue but they will not be allowed to succeed," Wahab said.
"I will talk to the army chief and I do not see any problem speaking to the US about the concerns raised by the Army," Wahab quoted Zardari as saying.
A meeting of the Army's corps commanders chaired by Kayani on Wednesday expressed serious concern about the conditions in the Kerry-Lugar bill affecting Pakistan's national interests.
The Army's objections primarily relate to clauses about Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme, ending support for cross-border activities by Pakistan-based militant groups and the civilian government's role in military promotions and appointments.
"Our opponents will try their best to capitalise on the situation but we will have to act very carefully and wisely. We will have to take the army on board on the aid bill and remove all misunderstandings," Wahab quoted Zardari as saying.
The President has also advised PPP leaders to take steps to negate the "propaganda" campaign launched by political rivals but to be "very careful" when it comes to the Army's concerns over the Kerry-Lugar bill.
A senior PPP leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some sections of the party had expressed displeasure over the army coming out in public with its concerns as this amounted to undermining the civilian government's authority.
"After writing a letter to the Prime Minister on the issue, the corps commanders should not have issued a statement to the media. If the army has reservations on the issue, there are appropriate forums to discuss them," the leader said.
The leader added that the PPP-led government has fully backed the army and mustered public and political support for operations against the Taliban in Swat. "The Army has no right to publicly criticise the moves of the democratic government," the leader said.