Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Gilani, Kayani meet to dispel impression of standoff


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Islamabad: Seeking to dispel the impression of a confrontation between them over the memogate scandal, Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani held a lengthy meeting following which they said their divergent views on the issue should “not be misconstrued as a standoff.”

The Gilani-Kayani meeting, which lasted over three hours last night, came after the government and military submitted their responses to the Supreme Court on the secret memo, which was sent to the US military seeking its help to prevent a possible coup in Pakistan following the May 2 American raid that killed al-Qaeda chief Osama bin laden in Abbottabad.

A statement issued by the Premier’s office after the meeting quoted Gilani and Kayani as saying that their divergent stands on the memogate issue “should not be misconstrued as a standoff between the army and government”.

Gilani also said he had taken “serious note of the rumours regarding a confrontation” over the issue of the secret memo and that he “strongly rejected the notion”.

In an indication that the government was keen to address any differences with the military over the memogate scandal, the statement said: “The Prime Minister and the army chief underscored the significance of national unity to address the challenges faced by the nation.”

The differing stands adopted by the government and the military on the scandal became evident in replies submitted by them to the Supreme Court on Friday. Gen Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in their responses, sought an inquiry into the memo.

The government, in its reply, asked the apex court to dismiss a batch of petitions seeking an inquiry into the controversy.

Noting that it had already asked the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to probe the issue, the government further challenged the apex court’s jurisdiction to hear the matter.

The statement issued by the Prime Minister’s House quoted Gilani as saying that the government’s stance regarding the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on the memo issue was still to be heard by the court.

Gilani and Kayani agreed that replies forwarded to the court by the army chief and the ISI chief were in “response to the notice of the (Supreme) Court, through proper channel and in accordance with the rules of business and should not be misconstrued as a standoff between the army and the government”.

The Pakistan People’s Party-led government has been at the centre of a political and diplomatic storm since Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the memo that was delivered to the then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen a week after the American raid killed bin Laden.

President Asif Ali Zardari’s sudden departure to Dubai on December 6 to seek treatment for a heart condition triggered speculation that he could be on the verge of resigning due to pressure from the military establishment, which has staged four coups.

The government has insisted that both the President and Prime Minister had played no role in drafting or delivering the memo. Gilani has ridiculed Ijaz’s credentials and described the memo as a “conspiracy against Parliament and the President”. (PTI)


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