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Pak army changes commander of Rawalpindi based unit

January 11, 2012 20:00 IST

The Pakistan Army on Wednesday changed the commander of a Rawalpindi-based unit that has traditionally played a vital role in military coups as army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani gathered his key aides to assess an escalation in tensions with the civilian government.

Brig Sarfaraz Ali was named the new commander of the 111 Brigade, an infantry formation that is part of the X Corps and has usually been called out during past military takeovers to take over key buildings and installations in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, sources told PTI.

The change of the commander of the brigade could be part of "posturing" by the powerful military as tensions increased with the Pakistan People's Party-led government over the memo scandal, the sources said.

In a related development, Gen Kayani held a meeting with his principal staff officers at the general headquarters after the prime minister sacked Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, considered to be very close to the army chief.

Kayani was expected to hold another meeting tomorrow with his PSOs and Corps Commanders, sources said.

Lodhi was sacked by Gilani minutes after the military warned there could be "grievous consequences" for the premier's remarks that the army and Inter-Services Intelligence chiefs had violated the Constitution in their handling of the memo scandal.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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