India tracking developments in Pakistan

January 11th, 2012 - 10:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, Jan 11 (IANS) With the tension mounting between the military and the civilian government following the dismissal of Pakistan’s defence secretary, India is closely watching developments in the neighbouring country with which it has revived a peace process only months ago.

Government sources said that New Delhi was keeping a close watch on the fast-evolving situation and speculation of an impending coup that could also impact the revived peace process between the two countries.

India resumed the peace process in February last year after a hiatus of more than twenty months following the 26/11 Mumbai carnage that had frozen the dialogue between the two nuclear-armed subcontinental neighbours.

In November, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani vowed to write “a new chapter” in the history of the relations between the two countries and resolved to make the dialogue more purposeful and productive.

But all these plans could go awry if the political turmoil in Pakistan spins out of control, leading to a coup.

In a dramatic move, Gilani Wednesday sacked Defence Secretary, Lt. Gen. (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a nominee of the powerful military establishment in the civilian government.

In a statement, Gilani’s office said that Lodhi was dismissed for “gross misconduct and illegal action which created misunderstanding” between state institutions.

The dismissal brought the long-festering conflict between the military and the civilian government out in the open, fuelling speculation of a coup. The tensions started a few months ago over an unsigned memo seeking the help of the US in reining in Pakistan’s military.

The military reacted sharply, and strongly objected to allegations made by the prime minister in an interview with a Chinese daily that the army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmad Shuja Pasha, acted unlawfully by making unilateral submissions before an ongoing Supreme Court inquiry on the memogate scandal.

“There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled,” said the military in a reference to Gilani’s comments.

“This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”

The court is probing a memo delivered to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen by Pakistani American business Mansoor Ijaz to help prevent a military coup which Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari feared after the killing of Al Qaeda chief Osma bin Laden in a US raid last May.

In December, Zardari flew to Dubai for medical treatment, triggering rumours of a coup. Last month, Kayani, however, dismissed coup rumours as speculation and said the army backed democracy.

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