Winter of discontent: With ifs and buts, Kayani quells coup rumours

Published: December 23, 2011
Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has ruled out a military takeover in the country. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Pakistan's army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has ruled out a military takeover in the country. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: It appears the turn of the year will not witness a coup d’état, though there has been much coup de théâtre.

On Friday, army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani categorically denied rampant speculation that the military is planning to oust the civilian government, calling the rumours ‘misleading’ and an attempt to divert focus from the ‘real issues’ at hand.

His unprecedented remarks came just a day after Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani launched a rare public attack on the army, accusing ‘conspirators’ of plotting to bring down his government. Kayani made the statements during a visit to forward posts in Mohmand and Kurram agencies on Thursday – but his comments were released by the military 24 hours later.

The army chief unambiguously silenced talk of a coup. He said that the Pakistan Army had and will continue to support the democratic process in the country. “The army is fully cognisant of its constitutional obligations and responsibilities,” he insisted.

Despite his dismissal of the rumours, Gen Kayani stressed that issues of national security need to be considered on merit alone. In remarks interpreted by some as an indication the army is still keeping its options open, Kayani also emphasised that national security should never be compromised.

In fact, sources hint at further distrust between the army and the government. A military official told The Express Tribune that the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government wanted to become a ‘political martyr’ by spreading talk of a possible coup.

According to the official, who asked not to be named, the real cause of the government’s ‘frustration’ is the army’s tough stance on the secret memo sent in May seeking Washington’s help to rein in the country’s security establishment.

“The government wants the army to brush the issue under the carpet,” the source claimed. “The army will not backtrack on it and will want to see the memo issue investigated thoroughly.” The official confirmed that a coup was not on the cards, disclosing that the army top brass have decided to resist any direct intervention, despite their annoyance with the prime minister’s tirade.

However, the army will back the Supreme Court as it continues investigations into the Memogate, even if it ultimately leads to the ouster of President Asif Zardari and the government.

Kayani himself seemed displeased with some of the prime minister’s comments. In a clear reference to Gilani’s remarks that his government had raised salaries in the army despite tough economic conditions, the army chief said that no one can put a “price tag on the sacred blood” of those who fight for the nation.

“The men and women of the Pakistan Army are performing their duty of defending Pakistan in accordance with the oath they took. They will continue to do so with the support and prayers of their countrymen, regardless of the cost,” he said.

Although few believe the military has the appetite for a coup, speculation has refused to die out that Zardari could be pushed from the presidency.

Military sources told Reuters on Friday that the army is fed up with Zardari and wants him out of office.

(Read: The army chief’s statement)

(With additional input from wires)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (66)

  • Hukabukka
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:31PM

    Yes, this time, the ‘uniformed change’ would be through the so called ‘judicial’ and ‘democratic’ means. After all, we can learn something from history.


  • Zalim singh
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:39PM

    oops. I mean ooooops.


  • Zia
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:39PM

    Time to bow out gracefully.


  • Sane
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:43PM

    Agreed “these are misleading and are being used as a bogey to divert the focus from the real issues” but Mr. Kiyani one of the real issues of this country is Military takeovers too. Isn’t it.


  • Faisal
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:45PM

    Pakistan Army Zindabad..


  • Sindhvoice
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:50PM

    Military establishments control will not fade until democratic government show some courage and re-open all cases against ex-military dictators and bring them to court of law and make a strong example of them.


  • dv sikka
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:54PM

    There is a dire need to do something to save Pakistan going into chaos. I am not a fan of Musharraf but the fact is that during his time Pakistan was a stable country. As a stop gap arrangement bring him bac as a caretake President. He also enjoys the respect of the army. He will be able to restore peace within the country. Arrange to hold election as soon as possible and bring in strong democratic government.Recommend

  • Maryam
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:55PM

    And the real issue is what Mr General?? Memogate:- No. The real issue is to let you obey the elected representative of Pakistani people. They know what our real issues are while you don’t know.


  • Much Amused
    Dec 23, 2011 - 3:59PM

    What is said today may not apply tomorrow. Recommend

  • Dec 23, 2011 - 3:59PM

    So what does Asma Jehangir, Gillani and Babar Awan have to say. Overheard: CJP is the new 111 brigade. Shame on all those who support anti Army and anti ISI statements at wrong place and at the wrong time.


  • Lord
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:08PM

    Whether we like it or not ,accept it or not it exists .For evidence how balochistan is controlled by military general although there is a democratically govt. there.


  • Karim
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:11PM

    its a timely made clarification. Hope the true aspirations of the government as regards, diverting attention from the real issues will be foiled.


  • John
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:22PM

    64 years on and still no clue who is ruling the country… pathetic…


  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:30PM

    This is what people of Pakistan except from you General Kiyani.

    You are one of the most favorite General and every single Pakistani respects you due to one simple reason that you respect the Constitution of Pakistan.


  • Adi
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:42PM

    @Sindhvoice…”Military establishments control will not fade until democratic government show some courage …” and put up a good show of governence. The all powerful military of turkey was tamed through an exceptionally good rule of PM Recep Tayyep Erdugan. The democratic leaders which break flood dams to save their personal land and delibratly doesnt solve the power crisis to bring in Rental power project will always be under the scare of military!


  • Dec 23, 2011 - 4:46PM



  • adeel759
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:47PM

    Very Good we were to eager to hear this. Well Done COASRecommend

  • Hassan
    Dec 23, 2011 - 4:57PM

    @people who are targeting military.

    Please read the history of islam and specially the time of khalifa. Khalifa were also head of their military. They participated in wars of the time and they also did administrative duties of the time.

    Democracy is creation of the west to control muslim world. Why are they so afraid of muslim countries ARMY getting powerful?


  • bhai
    Dec 23, 2011 - 5:10PM

    great stance by the chief!


  • Hamid
    Dec 23, 2011 - 5:12PM

    Kiyani is a very sensible General. In fact, he is the most sane General we have ever had.


  • ISI
    Dec 23, 2011 - 5:30PM

    respect for kayani


    Dec 23, 2011 - 5:44PM

    The statement made by the Army Chief would have a salutary effect on the deteriorating situation in Pakistan and bring back some stability in the country. The civilian govt should now act in a statesmanship manner and not make any inflammatory statement to avoid any more confrontation with the military.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Dec 23, 2011 - 6:07PM


    There is no democracy in Saudi Arabia and yet they rely on US Security guarantees. At least Pakistan has not descended into the same league. You think the Saudi army is all powerful?


  • Muhammad Tayyab
    Dec 23, 2011 - 6:19PM

    The real issue is that the Democratic Govt is not only corrupt but much incompetent to address anything in Pak, If they could not control their Army then they must resign. The Army always obeyed all the Democratic Govts, it is only these Corrupt Politicians that once they foresee a blokade, they invite Army to intervene,.,. the Politicians always remain ready with their suitcases,.,.. as of today,. wait and see,.,


  • simplemiss
    Dec 23, 2011 - 6:31PM

    “Democracy is the creation of West to control muslim world” !!! I havent read anything as stupid as this among the comments here. Normally those who hate democracy are feudal lords, the kings and their clan, the ruling junta in some countries . Are you one among them ? There are many non democratic countries which are rich but sensible people all over the world yearn for Democracy. Recommend

  • Newsreader
    Dec 23, 2011 - 6:45PM

    Thanks General. I do pray you won’t change your mind even at the instigation of any. We do adore you as the most competent and stable COAS so far in our history. Let democracy evolve. It takes time. Don’t judge too soon. Salam to our men and women in uniform.Recommend

  • Maria
    Dec 23, 2011 - 6:54PM

    Well spoken; Kayani is a professional soldier who has restored professionalism to the military that was lost by the last dictator.Recommend

  • Sachal Sarmast
    Dec 23, 2011 - 7:06PM

    Although, it is very unfortunate that such statement became inevitable, yet it is welcome statement. Nevertheless, general sb must make it sure that mindset that is, mainly, hangover of colonial culture is exorcized. Just make Pakistan politically stable, it stands to enjoy unimagined possibilities of development.Recommend

  • Imran Mohammad
    Dec 23, 2011 - 7:13PM

    Here are other conspiracies against democracy which Prime Minister did not highlight:

    PIA bankrupt.
    Railway shut-down
    Steel mill in worst shape ever.
    No electricity
    no Gas
    no water
    Corruption of worst kind

    These are all conspiracies against people’s government. :->


  • 99
    Dec 23, 2011 - 7:35PM

    @Muhammad Tayyab:

    Its the people who are to blame who easily accepted the army takeover, infact supported it. What can the politicians do if the army comes to arrest them. You guys are being silly. No on is saying the politicians are not corrupt but there are laws in place to send them to jail and kick them out. If the people dont believe in democracy and dont trust themselves then dont blame the leadership. At the end of the day the leadership only represents the people.


  • patriot to the bone
    Dec 23, 2011 - 7:51PM

    farfatched idea! for this fistr theiris a need to change the entire political structure of the country and throw out the current corrupt leaders and put to trail all these corrept people first then yo can think of what you are dreaming.


  • Faisal Anwar
    Dec 23, 2011 - 7:56PM

    @Imran Mohammad:

    Above will never work out. You should ask for independent commission to examine the all defence contract for last 60 years. Recommend

  • Cheema
    Dec 23, 2011 - 8:01PM

    The only way to support democracy to show good governance, on which both PPP and PML-N have miserably failed.


  • Gahratmand
    Dec 23, 2011 - 8:47PM

    Pakistan is in the center of a battle between Bhuttoism & Ziaism –


  • Raj - USA
    Dec 23, 2011 - 8:54PM


    In the days of Khalifa, slavery was prevalent and widely practiced. It is amazing to see some strongly support going back to those medieval ages and yet, in the same breath, complain of shortages of gas, electricity, etc. which were not there during those times.

    The purpose of learning history is to learn from the past and improve in the future. The purpose is not that we should to go back and live those ages. Learning history or religion without realizing the proper purpose of such learning would only lead to flawed arguments and wrong conclusions.

    Even in Khalifa system, is it mandatory that only an army man should be the Khalaifa? Can’t it not be a civilian administrator?


  • hidayat ullah khan
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:07PM

    So do you think that it would be a good idea to let this corrupt bunch of individuals (I will not call them PPP) to loot even further without any hinderance?@Hukabukka:


  • Newsreader
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:09PM

    @Raj – USA: Just to build on your comments, thanks to democracy that slavery was abolished


  • hidayat ullah khan
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:19PM

    The problem is that this government has no moral authority, it is so corrupt that it would not be able to stay put against any pressure. We need to bring army and intelligence agencies under civilian control but for that government needs to have public backing and moral authority and this government doesn’t have any. It didn’t learn from the past and since its inception, it is indulged in plundering and looting. It has to give way!


  • Faisal Afzal
    Dec 23, 2011 - 9:38PM

    Well said by the Chief. Next, I hope Zardari will have the courtesy to resign.


  • Muhammad Ahmed
    Dec 23, 2011 - 10:24PM

    @Raj – USA:
    I quote you-“The purpose of learning history is to learn from the past and improve in the future. The purpose is not that we should to go back and live those ages”

    Those ages you are talking about , were glorious ages. The purpose of history maybe what you are implying but NOT Islamic history. Never. No one has the right to subtract or add anything in any aspect from any teachings left to us by our Prophet Muhammad PBUH

    This is the age of Jahalat. That was the age of wisdom. There is no great intellectual on planet at the moment as great as Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He taught to our Khalifa’s. And the things you taught need NO IMPROVEMENT.

    The issue is that you are seperating both ages. Its the same age my friend. Had it being a different age , requiring “new improved” rules , Allah SWT would have sent us guidance for it. But no , because the teachings of islam suffix every possible aspect of life until the day of Judgement. I believe you may have had interaction with the Quran and Saheeh Hadees , you must know then that , Quran and Hadees are guidance for us till Judgement.

    So learn from the history of our Prophet PBUH and Khulfa-e-Rashedeen May Allah be pleased with all of them , and try to implement them as is. That was not the stone age or the age of Jahalat. This is the age of Jahalat and we have to go back to the age of wisdom.

    This never would mean to shun the use of computers , and cars , and cell phones and use camels as a ride. None of these are haram. This would mean to leave wine , leave pork, leave zina, leave lying , leave backbiting , start praying , start donating , start being generous etc etc etc etc.


  • Sarfraz Khan
    Dec 23, 2011 - 11:33PM

    I strongly support General Kiyani statement as Govt is trying to find an excuse for bad government. For four years the poor people of Pakistan are being buried under the high cost, and this Govt. is equally being supported by M. Nawaz sharif. who unnecessary accusing army dont know why he has his own reasons. All Pakisti knows only Army is the most disciplined and honest institution of Pakistan. The real concern is the MG scandal which was a conspiracy against Pakistan, and PM and Nawaz speech is to divert attention from the hot issue of the current era.. All Pakistanis know who is best for our country.


  • Syed
    Dec 24, 2011 - 12:24AM

    @Raj – USA: People like you who read the history written under influence and twisted come up with such comments (Period).


  • Farhan Gilgiti
    Dec 24, 2011 - 12:25AM

    Dear Mr. Kayani

    The real issue is that the Army, under your command, has badly failed in protecting its facilities against foreign and militant aggressions.

    Let’s remind the good General, who is believed to be a man of principles, about his failures too, to square the issues of governance and security.

    A. The brazen attack on the GHQ in Rawalpindi was a major failure of intelligence and defence.

    B. The blowing up of ISI headquarters in Peshawar and that of IB in Lahore are a soar reminder of your organization’s failure to defend its prime facilities

    C. The Abbottabad assassination of OBL by American Seals is a question mark on your organization’s ability to defend the frontiers of this country

    D. The assassination of General Alvi on a road does not speak high of your professional fighting force’s ability to protect its seniors

    E. The Mehran-Gate Scandal is a bloat on the name of the forces of whom you are the most powerful icon

    F. The murder of 24 Jawans of Pak Army (in which many of my family members serve at commissioned and non-commissioned positions) is a gross reminder of your failure to respond in time, to aid those who were pounded with bombs by the American troops, as ISPR says.

    If the PPP-led coalition government has failed to provide us electricity and gas, then you have also failed in protected us and, most importantly, protecting your own garrisons and key installations.

    In view of the above facts, can you let the people of Pakistan know, why not shall the Supreme Commander of Pakistan’s Armed forces and President of the Islamic Republic, of which you are a soldier, commission a probe into your and DG ISI’s ability to hold these key positions, as lives of millions of Pakistani citizens directly depend on your capacity of decision making, management and leadership!


  • Tahir
    Dec 24, 2011 - 12:59AM

    General’s statement cannot be relied upon. History shows that such type statement often comes when contrary is planned. Thats called strategic assault. PPP should not be happy over this statement something may come through “Chief Sahib” via Bhatinda


  • Shakil
    Dec 24, 2011 - 1:06AM

    @Imran Mohammad: Please consider that huge defense budget has put this nation where people find PIA bankrupt.
    Railway shut-down
    Steel mill in worst shape ever.
    No electricity
    no Gas
    no water
    Governemnt has no funds to spend on people as more than 93% is going on defense and deb servicing


  • Max
    Dec 24, 2011 - 1:47AM

    To answer Islam: “Please read the history of islam and specially the time of khalifa. Khalifa etc”

    I take it you are recommending Islamic law (sharia) instead of democracy. If that is the case than Pakistan has to chose, to go with one or the other. The way it is now, it is neither a fish nor a fowl. Tthe present setup creates great instability. In fact Pakistan’s 64 year history is negative. Why?


  • Shame on Pakistanis!
    Dec 24, 2011 - 1:52AM

    Its funny because all these so called “educated class” of my country jumps to criticize the army on every single news concerning GOP vs PakMil.

    Are you guys insane or just so naive or corrupt yourselves that you keep missing the point. the Gilani/Zardari government is corrupt. T
    The government is just creating this “martial law” and “state with in a state” hype to get away with all the issues. Martial laws have been serious issues in Pakistan but it is not right now. The issues right now are roti, kapra and makaan. Add bijli, security, education to it too. But no! Pakistanis are just too busy these days to criticize PakMil. You illiterates! you cant just see that if the government itself is honest and hardworking, it becomes powerful. In Pakistan, peoples’ mentality is just that whenever any corruption case goes to the courts against government, the democracy is termed being threatened. WOW. What a rational here! The democracy is not just being elected with a ballot count, it is to govern with accountability not like a blank check after being elected you stupids! Take Turkey for example. They showed real progress for a decade and ultimately were powerful and popular enough to “change their constitution” to bring military under control. It is worse than Pakistan. Turkish military by the turkish constitution was not in government control, but o wait, you guys cant think beyond your military vs govt thinking.

    No wonder we the Pakistanis are suffering because we didnt deserve anymore… Recommend

  • antony
    Dec 24, 2011 - 2:30AM

    @Muhammad Ahmed, your superlatives will be true for you and not for others like me who believe in even before time period of great wisdom during 4 B.C -29 AD where “seek the truth and the truth will set you free ” commandment was given . There are my friends who believe in even before time period of great wisdom from gita ““Perform your obligatory duty, because action is indeed better than inaction.” These points written are just to tell you in this world there are many different pearls of wisdom are present and its upto the human being to search and follow it.


  • Abdul Rahman Khan
    Dec 24, 2011 - 3:17AM

    Oh General, you disappointed the right-thinking people of pakistan. A worst dictatorial
    (military or honest bureaucracy) rule is much better than the corrupt democracy. Is there any way out that the people get rid of zardari-gilani clique without giving them the status of ‘political martyrs’.


  • exploere
    Dec 24, 2011 - 3:47AM

    Get ready for political murder president Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, CJP and Kiyani are on the same page. They will play with the emotions of simple people higlighting your poor governance which is a fact and hiding their failures. Stage is set and players have been paid.


  • Syed Kashmiri
    Dec 24, 2011 - 4:04AM

    The rot lies with the present civilian government. They do not obey the SC;reappoint people who have been sanctioned by the Court and openly indulge in corruption and scams. Too many scams to mention. The General is correct when he says the bogey of the coup is being raised to divert attention from the real issues.


  • Anjum
    Dec 24, 2011 - 4:10AM

    Now I start respect and love our military again. That is how a country loving officer thinks and act. Pak and our military zindabad :)


  • Newsreader
    Dec 24, 2011 - 5:30AM

    @Muhammad Ahmed: They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. It is Islam and the shariah that have the provisions for ijtehad and ijmah. Islam in fact is the first and foremost and the most ardent advocate of progress in thought and in evolution. That does not mean nauzubillah a ‘bidaat’. The pity is most people have a very limited knowledge of the Islamic jurisprudence. The so called common law that evolved after the dark ages in England borrows its fundamental principles from the Islamic jurisprudence (shariah). These so called Taliban have no knowledge of shariah which is a great injustice to Islam. Which is even made worse by the state controlled(but ostensibly “free”) western
    Media’s propaganda machinery.


  • Dec 24, 2011 - 5:37AM

    Whether Kayani or Pasha stay in their jobs is not an issue of national security, there are many other generals in the Army.Recommend

  • XX
    Dec 24, 2011 - 6:12AM

    Pakistan may be the only country in the world that would tolerate a government like Zardari’s simply due to the dictation of the West. I highly doubt that self-respecting non-Western countries such as China, India, Russia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, etc. would ever tolerate this; either the militaries, courts, or the people of these countries would have over-thrown such a government by now.
    It is about time that the poor and down-trodden people of this unfortunate republic realize that their military is not about to save them anytime soon. They too are somehow firmly within the grasp of the Western powers; if they could have had removed Zardari, they would have done it a long time ago.
    But the people underestimate how these foreign powers are willing to use everything in their arsenal to preserve the Zardari government in Pakistan – because it is the only way for them to contain this Islamic nuclear state – and their arsenal is a formidable one indeed.
    And that the people also need to realize that their Supreme Court cannot possibly remove the government without support from the military; it is just not physically possible.
    The people need to realize that if they wish to remove Zardari, then the one and only way to do so is through a revolution.


  • Harry Stone
    Dec 24, 2011 - 6:29AM

    What did you expect him to say………..Yes we are going to have a coup but we are not quite ready. Our time table is early March.


  • Mard-e-Haq
    Dec 24, 2011 - 6:54AM

    @ Farhan Gilgiti,

    That was a brilliant compendium of Kiyani’s failures. Can he answer those questions? I think not. All our military dictatorships have been staunch stooges of the US. And all our civilian governments post-1950s have been increasingly corrupt to the core. Pakistan is caught between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea – as always.


  • Nice
    Dec 24, 2011 - 7:06AM

    The real issue is Corruption. The real issue is corrupt administration with no regard to the safety and wellbeing of the Pakistani people. Do not expect the military to sit and watch the disaster, the daily bomb blasts and blood shed and deception like ‘sitting ducks’. They also have a duty towards their nationa and the foremost duty is protection of their people and not corrupt politicians under the umbrella of a thing called democracy. Their duty is never to compromise on national security. If the civillian government is compromising on national security then expect the military to take a ‘Supreme Role’! It is the military that has always saved the nation from falling into the hands of its enemies.
    Salams and Salute to Kiyani and his ethical and honest team!!


  • Bumble bee
    Dec 24, 2011 - 9:03AM

    In Pakistan, the military preserves democracy by getting rid of the corrupt and harmful leadership harmful to the fabric of democracy. Plain and simple honest and great approach!


    Dec 24, 2011 - 9:27AM

    @Farhan Gilgiti:
    Excellent analysis emanating from a common man which needs no further explanation. Hope the General reads it and addresses the problems mentioned since he has all tools available at his disposal to solve the same but would require will and passion to do it for the sake of the country which should be his only objective for achieving total success and remembered in Pakistan as the first General to follow the military motto ie ‘Service before self’..


  • vasan
    Dec 24, 2011 - 10:59AM

    Farhan Gilgiti: Good analysis.
    Anybody who wants to overthrow the govt, should do so only thru the Ballot box. Army should not have any role in it. It is like the security guard overthrowing the owner of the house and marrying the woman of the house..


  • ashok sai
    Dec 24, 2011 - 11:18AM

    @Farhan Gilgiti:

    Great points sir, also please add,
    a)How can you allow a world’s most feared terrorist to live in your army area for 5 years or so ? b)Can’t you hold the blame for the shame it had brought to the reputation of the nation ?


  • Allah Rakha
    Dec 24, 2011 - 11:41AM

    I guess you don’t have the lessons of history about the causes of such coups.


  • Hold your horses
    Dec 24, 2011 - 12:30PM

    Why do pakistanis have to use the word “islam” during normal debate….i see so many comments with “islam” word in this…..pls. grow beyond religion otherwise this word would devour you some day….it might sound bitter but you guys are just obsessed…


  • MarkH
    Dec 24, 2011 - 1:25PM

    Corruption as an excuse and motive will only take you so far. You and a lot of other people will be better for accepting that and choosing your battles under the right criteria. I can also tell exactly what political group you support just from the way you worded that. That doesn’t make it bad but it’s quite obvious it’s just dull and unoriginal repetition.
    It’s not the army’s job to stick their nose into such a thing. That’s why you have other institutions. They’re supposed to concentrate on specific areas so they can give it their full attention and perform at their best. That’s how systems work. They all have a role and a purpose. If they deviate a negative domino effect occurs and quality of the results from those in their positions also suffer.Recommend

  • Nice
    Dec 24, 2011 - 11:35PM

    MarkH – Your comment well taken. By the way I do not belong to any political party. I believe in justice and truth. The corrupt politicians do not give a hoots to the daily lively hood of their people and the biggest living example is when the country was going through a blood bath, dead bodies dumped on the street, the military was not allowed by the political leadership to intervene to save people’s lives and the civillian government was totally incompetent in providing safety and protection. I will however, tell you that I will listen, watch, observe and vote for the right leadership when the time arrives with a clear conscious!!
    Regards and Salams.


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