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'They want the army to react and to make a coup'

Source: PTI
January 12, 2012 04:26 IST
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In what could add to the growing confrontation between Pakistan's civilian and military leadership, army officials have warned that the army will "not cooperate" with the new Defence Secretary who was appointed by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after he sacked Lt Gen (retd) Naeem Khalid Lodhi.

"The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary defence," a military officer was quoted as saying in a New York Times report.

The report said military officials have warned that the army would be likely to refuse to work with the newly appointed defence secretary Nargis Sethi, "signalling the possibility of a serious rupture between the army and the civilian government".

Pakistani analysts said in the report that the firing of Lodhi could be a potentially ominous sign that the festering conflict between the army and the civilian government had reached a critical stage.

"It is a desperate measure," said Ikram Sehgal, a defence analyst and former army officer.

"They want the army to react and to make a coup".

In a day of fast paced developments in Pakistan, the Army warned Gilani of "grievous consequences" for his recent criticism of the military and ISI even as the Prime Minister sacked the Defence Secretary over the memo scandal.

Another military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in the New York Times report that relations between Lodhi and Gilani soured after the prime minister's staff put pressure on Lodhi to contradict statements about the controversial memo by army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and ISI boss Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

The two had told the Supreme Court last month that the memo, allegedly drafted by former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, was authentic.

"The government had prepared a draft that stated that the Ministry of Defence does not agree with General Kayani and Genera Pasha's opinions about the veracity of the memo," said the military official, who was present during the discussions.

"General Lodhi refused to sign the document, saying those were not his words".
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