Gilani, Kayani to come face to face on Saturday

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Islamabad, Jan 13: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will come face to face for the first time since they crossed swords over the memo issue, when a cabinet committee meets on Saturday to discuss crucial issues related to national security and relations with the US.

The government has convened a meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet, Pakistan’s highest decision-making body for security matters, at the Prime Minister’s House tomorrow afternoon, officials said today.

Kayani is among those who will attend the meeting, the officials said.

This will be the first meeting between Gilani and Kayani since a testy exchange between the civilian government and the military earlier this week.

On Monday, Gilani said during an interview that the army and Inter-Services Intelligence chiefs had acted in a “unconstitutional and illegal” manner while submitting affidavits to the Supreme Court on the alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a possible coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

The military reacted to Gilani’s remarks by saying that they could have “grievous consequences”.

Kayani met with the army’s Corps Commanders and his Principal Staff Officers yesterday to assess options for dealing with the political crisis.

Though the meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet has been convened to discuss the Parliamentary Committee on National Security’s recommendations for resetting ties with the US and NATO, sources told PTI that it could give the government and the military an opportunity to address their differences on the memo issue.

There are no indications so far that the army will engineer another coup to remove the Pakistan People’s Party-led government but analysts said the military may not be averse to any move by the Supreme Court to topple the government for either the memo issue or its failure to reopen high-profile graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari.

“There will be no martial law and all players will continue to function within their constitutional limits,” an insider was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper about yesterday’s deliberations between Kayani and his top

During the meeting, Kayani and his commanders reviewed various options for dealing with the standoff with the government and Gilani’s decision to sack Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a former corps commander who is considered to be very close to the army chief.

Gilani has accused Lodhi of creating misunderstandings between the government and the military in his handling of matters related to the memo issue.


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