Gilani meets defence chiefs; Kayani talks with Zardari (Lead)

January 14th, 2012 - 11:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, Jan 14 (IANS) Amid the stand-off between the political and military leadership in Pakistan, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday told military chiefs that the armed forces were the pillars of the nation’s resilience and strength and that the nation applauds their heroic services in defending the land.

Chief of Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani had earlier called on President Asif Ali Zardari to discuss national security issues.

Dawn News said the meeting with Zardari was held on the request of the army chief, who also discussed the alleged memo that sought US help to stop a possible military coup.

“Current security situation was discussed during the meeting,” Xinhua quoted a brief statement from the president’s office as saying.

The meeting — that lasted for over an hour — took place ahead of the defence meeting presided over by Gilani.

Kayani reportedly told the president that he had reservations over Gilani’s statements to a Chinese daily regarding the replies submitted to the Supreme Court by him and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence, in the memo case.

The army chief reportedly requested the president to direct the prime minister to retract his statements made to the newspaper.

Meanwhile, the cabinet defence committee meeting chaired by Gilani was attended by Defence Minister Chaudhary Ahmad Mukhtar, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Khalid Shameem Wynne, Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman and Navy chief Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, an official statement said.

The meeting discussed the US Central Command Inquiry Report on the NATO air strikes on two Pakistan Army border posts in November, which killed 24 soldiers, Xinhua reported.

“Each organ and state institution has to play its due role, within its respective domain, to bring forth the best in promoting Pakistan’s national interest,” Gilani said at the meeting.

“Similarly, the civil institutions have their due roles to play for socio-economic development and for ensuring progress and prosperity. Together in complete harmony with each other and other vital institutions, we can change the country’s destiny,” the prime minister said.

He said a full review of the terms of cooperation with the US-led NATO forces was being conducted.

“We hope that decisions in this regard will be in line with the aspirations of our people and go a long way in preserving and protecting our national interests and promote peace in the region,” he said.

Pakistan’s political scenario was thrown in turmoil after Gilani accused Kayani and ISI chief Pasha of violating the constitution by submitting their replies to the Supreme Court on the alleged memo sent to Washington that said Zardari feared a military takeover following the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

The army later warned that the prime minister’s “critical comments” would have “serious ramifications” with “potentially grievous consequences for the country”.

Following the comment, Gilani sacked defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi for “misconduct and unlawful steps he took” in the memo case, and asked Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi to take additional charge as defence secretary.

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