Islamabad, Dec 17 : Against the backdrop of divergent stands adopted by Pakistan's civilian government and military on the Memogate scandal in the Supreme Court, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Friday rejected the impression of a “standoff” between the two sides on the issue.
Following a meeting with the army chief that lasted over three hours, Gilani said he had taken “serious note of the rumours regarding a confrontation” over the issue of the alleged secret memo and that he “strongly rejected the notion”.
A statement issued by the premier's office quoted Gilani and Kayani as saying that responses submitted by the military to the apex court “should not be misconstrued as a standoff between the army and the government”.
In an indication that the government was keen to address any differences with the military over the Memogate scandal, the statement said: “The Prime Minister and the army chief underscored the significance of national unity to address the challenges faced by the nation.”
The differing stands adopted by the government and the military on the scandal became evident in replies submitted by them to the Supreme Court yesterday.
Gen Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha, in their responses, sought an inquiry into the memo that was sent to the US military seeking help to prevent a feared coup in Pakistan in May. The government, in its reply, asked the apex court to dismiss a batch of petitions seeking an inquiry into the controversy.
Noting that it had already asked the Parliamentary Committee on National Security to probe the issue, the government further challenged the apex court's jurisdiction to hear the matter.
The statement issued by the Prime Minister's House quoted Gilani as saying that the government's stance regarding the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on the memo issue was still to be heard by the court.
Gilani and Kayani agreed that replies forwarded to the court by the army chief and the ISI chief were in “response to the notice of the (Supreme) Court, through proper channel and in accordance with the rules of business and should not be misconstrued as a standoff between the army and the government”.
The Pakistan People's Party-led government has been at the centre of a political and diplomatic storm since Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz made public the alleged memo that was delivered to then US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen a week after the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
President Asif Ali Zardari's sudden departure for Dubai on December 6 to seek treatment for a heart condition triggered speculation that he could be on the verge of resigning due to pressure from the military establishment, which has staged four coups and ruled Pakistan for more than half the country's existence.
The government has insisted that both the President and Prime Minister had played no role in drafting or delivering the memo.
Gilani has ridiculed Ijaz's credentials and described the memo as a “conspiracy against parliament and the President”.