Kayani meets Zardari

Islamabad : Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani Saturday called on President Asif Ali Zardari amid deteriorating relations between the government and the military over an alleged memo that sought US help to stop a possible military coup, media reports said.

Dawn News said the meeting was held on the request of the army chief, who discussed with the president the memo scandal and issues related to national security.

“Current security situation was discussed during the meeting,” Xinhua quoted a brief statement from the president’s office as saying.

The meeting — that lasted for over an hour — took place ahead of the defence committee meeting to be presided over by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, where the three services chiefs were also scheduled to be present, the Online news agency reported.

Kayani reportedly told the president that he had reservations over Gilani’s statements to a Chinese daily regarding the replies submitted to the Supreme Court by him and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, in the memo case.

The army chief reportedly requested the president to direct the prime minister to retract his statements made to the newspaper.

Gilani had accused Kayani and Pasha of violating the constitution by submitting their replies to the Supreme Court on the alleged memo sent to Washington that said Zardari feared a military takeover following the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The army later warned that the prime minister’s “critical comments” would have “serious ramifications” with “potentially grievous consequences for the country”.

Following the comment, Gilani sacked defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi for “misconduct and unlawful steps he took” in the memo case, and asked Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to take additional charge as defence secretary.

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