Anger, anguish and distress characterised the ruling party’s huddle on Friday.
Amidst a rapidly-evolving political landscape, the Pakistan Peoples Party’s core committee convened to discuss the situation and weigh its options vis-à-vis the Memogate fiasco.
Most participants demanded that the government take ‘appropriate action’ against Defence Secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi, for his ‘controversial statement’ in the Supreme Court, a source told The Express Tribune.
Lodhi, in his reply to the apex court on Wednesday, said the government did not have ‘operational control’ over the army and its intelligence arm, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
Participants of the meeting said the defence secretary’s statement was tantamount to challenging the authority of the chief executive of the country, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The prime minister struck a defiant note on Thursday, saying his government would not accept a ‘state within [a] state,’ in a blunt reference to the military.
Driven up the wall
The source, a member of the core committee, said the prime minister’s earlier statement – that the army and intelligence chiefs had submitted their replies to the Supreme Court through the proper channel – was only ‘to cover up things’. “But since they have no regards for us, we decided to place the matter in front of the entire nation,” the source said.
While many participants reportedly appreciated Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s statement, in which he ruled out a military takeover, they said it was not sufficient. The military did not honour such statements in the past and kept pressurising the democratically-elected governments, they said.
Officially, presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the meeting reviewed the overall political situation in the country and the recent developments. The prime minister gave a comprehensive briefing on the overall situation.
The meeting, at the President House, reiterated that all institutions of the state have to work within the ambit of the Constitution without trespassing into domain of others, Babar said in a press release. The meeting reposed trust in the leadership of PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari.
Following the first meeting, Prime Minister Gilani held another one at the Prime Minister House, where details of the Memogate case were discussed. The attorney general briefed the participants. They agreed that all constitutional and legal formalities regarding the memo case would be fulfilled.
Sources added that Gilani held a separate, detailed discussion with senior party members regarding the rift between the government and the armed forces.
Coalition lends support
In a show of support, leaders of coalition parties called on President Zardari at the Aiwan-e-Sadr on Friday.
Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi called on the president, followed by Awami National Party’s Asfandyar Wali and leader of Fata parliamentarians Munir Khan Orakzai. Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain also spoke with the president on the phone.
With additional input from APP.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 24th, 2011.
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