Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani withdraws criticism of military

Story highlights

  • Gilani had accused the army and intelligence chiefs of not following proper procedures
  • He has now withdrawn that claim, saying they did not violate the rules
  • Tensions are high between the government and military over the "memogate" affair
Pakistan's prime minister withdrew a statement criticizing the country's army and intelligence chiefs Wednesday, amid tensions between the government and military leadership.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had accused army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, of not following proper procedures in their submission of affidavits to a commission investigating the so-called "memogate" row.
The memogate scandal centers on a claim by a Pakistani-American businessman, Mansoor Ijaz, that Pakistan's civilian government last year sought U.S. help to sideline the military leadership.
Speaking to media in Islamabad Wednesday, Gilani said his earlier statement had been given in a particular situation.
"I want to dispel the impression that the military leadership acted unconstitutionally or violated rules," Gilani said.
He had previously accused Kayani and Pasha of submitting their affidavits without following the "rules of business."
Gilani said both should have submitted their replies to the Supreme Court commission through the law ministry. Instead, they submitted their affidavits through the defense minister, retired Gen. Khalid Naeem Lodhi.
Gilani sacked Lodhi earlier this month, alleging "gross misconduct" after the defense minister passed the affidavits from Kayani and Pasha directly to the Supreme Court.
The memogate affair has deepened a power struggle between President Asif Ali Zardari's government and the military.
Ijaz claims that in the aftermath of the U.S. raid that killed Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan in May, Pakistan's then-ambassador in Washington, Husain Haqqani, asked him to contact the White House to prevent a possible coup in Pakistan.
An attorney for Ijaz said Monday that the businessman had decided against going to Islamabad to testify to the commission looking into the affair. The attorney, Akram Sheikh, said the Pakistani government had given Ijaz "no assurance" on his security.