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Deteriorating situation may force Pak army to intervene: report
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March 09, 2009 21:30 IST
Pakistan's deteriorating political and security situation has fuelled media speculation that the powerful army may be forced to intervene amid reports it has even asked President Asif Ali Zardari [Images] to quickly set things right with his political rival and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief Nawaz Sharif [Images].

"The ongoing strife in the country, with militants and the Al-Qaeda [Images] steadily gaining ground in the tribal areas, and the government busy settling scores with opposition parties and civil society, has compelled Washington and its prime contractor in the region, the Pakistan military, to rewrite the political scenario," the Asia Times Online said.

"Pakistan's deteriorating political situation has activated the previously very low profile chief of army staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayni," the report said, adding the situation in Pakistan is "fast becoming untenable".

There was no immediate response from the army or the government to the report. The report said the country is "becoming less and less governable under the present arrangement, and quick action is required."

"This does not necessarily mean getting rid of Zardari, but he could well be forced to make further concessions to his political rival, former premier and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, by giving him a share of power. If Zardari does not do this, the military's hand could be forced," the report said on Sunday.

Zardari was also reportedly asked to clean up the mess before the planned 'long march' by Sharif's supporters next Monday. According to the report, Kayani's "trip to Washington appears to have acted as a catalyst for change".

Since taking over the military from Pervez Musharraf [Images] on November 28, 2007, Kayani, a former director of the Inter Services Intelligence and director general of the Military Operations, had kept his head down.

It said Kayani met President Zardari for the first time this week - actually twice - after returning from Washington, where he had met with senior officials.

"As a result, a planned crackdown against opposition parties has been shelved," it said.

According to the report, the army chief on Thursday discussed the situation at a meeting with the corps commanders and shared Washington's concerns about governance in Pakistan.

"One of these concerns relates to Zardari. He assumed the presidency last September as an "iron man", but in recent weeks he as been more subdued," it said.

According to the report, Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani getting closer to the army - coincides with a drop in Zardari's popularity within his own Pakistan People's Party, the lead party in the ruling coalition.

Although Kayani has become more active, neither the Americans nor the Pakistan army [Images] actually wants to change horses in mid-stream, the report added.

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