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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani PM defends sacking of top defense official

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, Jan 12, IRNA -- Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani defended his decision to dismiss the country’s top defense official amidst increasing tension with the military over an alleged memo.

Gilani told reporters that the army and intelligence chiefs had not followed rules in submitting replies to the Supreme Court on the Memogate scandal.

The Prime Minister said his government was left with “no choice” but to take action against Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi as he had filed an affidavit in the apex court on the memo issue without getting the consent of the defence minister.

The government acted against Lodhi after conducting an inquiry and obtaining the views of the Law Ministry, Gilani said. The defence minister, too, sought Lodhi’s reply on charges levelled against him, he said.

“After receiving the comments (of the Law Ministry), we were left with no choice because under the rules of business, he (Lodhi) did not follow the rules of business,” Gilani told reporters after he inaugurated sports channel of the state-run television.

Asked if he stood by his remarks that the army and intelligence chiefs had acted in a “unconstitutional and illegal” manner by submitting replies on the memo issue to the apex court without seeking the government’s approval, Gilani said the rules of business clearly stated that the military officials should have obtained the approval of the defence minister.

“Under the rules of business, a summary (formal proposal) has to be moved. The summary has to be signed by the minister and no summary was signed by the Defence Minister,” he said.

The army and intelligence chiefs “did not get a confirmation” from the defence minister for their replies to the apex court and also “bypassed” the Law Ministry, Gilani said.

The military reacted angrily to the charges levelled by Gilani against the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chiefs, saying his remarks could have “grievous consequences”.

The military refuted Gilani’s allegations in a strongly worded statement. Minutes after the statement was issued, Gilani sacked the fefence secretary, who is considered to be very close to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Gilani said the army chief had spoken to him on phone before issuing the statement. “He (Kayani) said he wanted to give a clarification, and I told him he should do so if he wanted to,” the premier said.

The government is at a visible confrontation both the military and judiciary over the alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a military coup in Pakistan and the reopening of graft cases against Zardari.

The government has convened a special session of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament on Thursday to discuss the apex court’s warning that action could be taken against the President and Prime Minister for failing to revive the corruption cases. The army chief has convened a meeting of his top commanders tomorrow to discuss the standoff with the government over the Memogate scandal.

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Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30762139



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