With strong speculations in Islamabad that the government has decided to reject the Kerry-Lugar Bill in parliament, circles close to President Asif Ali Zardari clarified on Friday night that there was no move on the part of the President to sack Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, reports The News, as Islamabad newspaper.
The development comes amid fast paced events in Islamabad in which senior PPP leaders met Zardari amid indications that the US was ready to remove some ‘objectionalbe' clauses of the controversial bill, the report said.
President Zardari was expected to meet Army Chief Gen Kayani and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday to clear the situation, one report said.
The News reported that Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Friday categorically told one army general that; “Neither I nor the president is hatching any conspiracy against General Kayani and if someone can prove anything against me I will resign.”
The newspaper quoting reliable sources reported that Zardari would assure General Kayani on Saturday that nobody was going to remove him from his current job.
Intense political activity took place in Islamabad on Friday when several senior ministers met PM Gilani to demand rejection of the ‘objectionalbe' clauses in the Kerry-Lugar Bill. These clauses include mention of Lashkar-e-Toiba activity in Muridke and the Afghan Taliban Shura active in Quetta. The US, it has been reported, is willing to reconsider these clauses.
PM Gilani along with the senior ministers met President Zardari on Friday night, where it was informally decided that the ‘objectionalbe' clauses in Kerry-Lugar Bill would be rejected after debate in the National Assembly, the newspaper report said.
Meanwhile, PPP leaders have chalked out a plan to remove apprehensions in the minds of top Army corps commanders through several steps to be taken in the next few days. Circles close to the Presidency said it was not correct that President Zardari had been asked to cool down by Prime Minister Gilani.
Sources in the capital said the unofficial denial of the Presidency was a strong indication that the Presidency wanted to remove the perception that differences between the president and the Army chief persisted after the developments on the Kerry-Lugar Bill.
President Zardari has agreed to relent on his hitherto uncompromising stance on the Kerry-Lugar Bill in its existing shape.
The president and the prime minister have decided to defuse the current crises by both assuring Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Saturday that all the controversial clauses of the Kerry-Lugar Bill will be debated in both houses of parliament and subsequently these clauses could be rejected by parliament.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik contacted top army brass on Thursday and assured that the president had no plans to remove General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani from the command of Pakistan Army.
Reliable sources told The News that the army high command and several senior ministers wanted a check on the mysterious activities of some US nationals in Pakistan. The Interior Ministry had recently informed prime minister that there were 411 US nationals present in Pakistan these days out of which 286 enjoyed the status of diplomats.
US embassy in Islamabad has hired about 307 houses in the capital. Security agencies have completed a survey of these houses and informed the government in clear words that most of these houses will not be used just for residences but also for spying activities.
Zardari and Gilani are expected to discuss these issues with Gen Kayani on Saturday.