ISLAMABAD - The meeting between President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has, to a great extent, lowered the rising temperatures in the national politics, with the state institutions otherwise seemed to be heading for a head-on collision.
Sources aware of behind-the-scene developments informed TheNation that the meeting arranged on the request of army chief was mainly aimed at removing the misunderstanding between the political and military leadership. The meeting that lasted for about an hour is the first between the two since the memogate scandal triggered tense confrontation between the two sides.
Gen Kayani came up with a list of complaints against the PPP stalwarts who were out to give hostile statements against the military leadership with Governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khosa’s provocative statement being the recent one.
Sources said Gen Kayani told the president that he had reservations over Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s interview to the Chinese daily regarding the replies submitted by him and the ISI DG in the memo case.
He said the Attorney General has already made it clear that the replies of the COAS and ISI DG filed in the Supreme Court were according to the law.
A private TV channel quoting its sources reported that the army chief requested the president to direct the premier to retract his statement made to the newspaper.
Sources further informed that Gen Kayani reminded President Zardari about the tacit understanding between the political and military leadership that they would not make any public statements on the issues between them and would resolve the same at the available forums like Defence Committee of the Cabinet.
Kayani was annoyed over the continuous army bashing by the ruling PPP and its allies which would only add to the confusion and chaotic situation prevailing in the country. He asked Zardari to play his role in cooling down the situation by stopping his party men from giving provocative and hostile statements against the institutions.
He further said in such circumstances how the military leadership would function properly and effectively when the country’s enemies were out to destabilise the country and the relations with the US and NATO were also at the lowest ebb.
Sources also divulged that Gen Kayani discussed the overall security situation in the country with President Zardari with special reference to the resumption of drone attacks and terrorist activities in some parts of the country. Border situation and sacking of Defence Secretary also came under discussion.
They informed that Gen Kayani also discussed the matters to be taken up in the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, which was held hours after his meeting with the president.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan People’s Party informed that President Zardari agreed with army chief that provocative statements should not be given on the sensitive matters and assured him that he would look into the media talk of Governor Punjab. Both the leaders were of the view that institutions should function within their constitutional domain with the aim to strengthen democracy.
The president, sources said, acknowledged the army’s unprecedented sacrifices in the ongoing war on terror and for the defence and stability of Pakistan. He further assured that all the requirements of the armed forces would be met despite financial constraints.
Gen Kayani on the occasion reiterated determination of the armed forces to fully back the democratic process and made it clear that the army was not involved in any conspiracy against the government or an individual. He said the army was being unnecessarily involved in different matters.
Agencies add: Army chief is furious with the prime minister for statements criticising the army and they should be either clarified or withdrawn, a senior military source told Reuters on Saturday, piling pressure on the premier. “The army chief complained to the president about the prime minister’s statements, and said they needed to be either clarified or withdrawn,” the source told Reuters.
“He said such statements were divisive and made the country more vulnerable.” Sources said that leaders in the Pakistan People’s Party-led government and foreign diplomats had played a key role in arranging the meeting between Zardari and Kayani.
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman described as speculative media reports regarding contents of discussion between the President and the army chief. Commenting on it Farhatullah Babar said that the reports, without quoting source, are hypothetical, based on conjectures and in the realm of speculation.