Lahore, Jan 12 : PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has emerged as a mediator between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani after differences between Pakistan's civilian government and the powerful military seemed to reach at point of no return.
Hussain, who served as Prime Minister during Pervez Musharraf's reign, is considered to be close to the security establishment and is known for his links with the army's top brass.
The leadership of the Pakistan People's Party has requested Hussain, whose PML-Q is part of the ruling coalition, to help defuse tensions between the government and the military.
The tensions between the two institutions mounted after Gilani's interview to a Chinese daily, during which he said that affidavits submitted to the Supreme Court by Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha on the memo issue were “unconstitutional and illegal”.
The military responded by issuing a statement yesterday that said the premier's remarks have “grievous consequences”. “Our party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain is ready to mediate between the army and the government,” PML-Q spokesman Kamil Ali Agha said.
The PML-Q will not mind playing the role of a bridge between the two institutions as it is in the best interest of the country.
Nobody would like a clash of institutions,” Agha said. Hussain had asked all stakeholders to observe restraint and clear all misunderstandings through dialogue, he said. “We think it is a political issue and it will be resolved by sitting together. There should be no firing from any side any more.
We want a ceasefire by all parties,” Agha said. Another PML-Q leader said his party chief had suggested to the PPP's leadership to go in for the Supreme Court's offer to let the people and parliament decide the crucial issue of reopening graft cases against President Asif Ali Zardari that were closed under a graft amnesty issued by Musharraf in 2007.
That amnesty was scrapped by the apex court two years ago. A PPP leader said defusing the tensions between the government and the army would be a test of Hussain's skills. “Hussain had earlier successfully played the role of mediator between the PPP leadership and the army's high command and he is expected to bail out the government on this occasion too,” said the PPP leader who did not want to be named.
President Zardari's assistant political secretary Fauzia Wahab said as long as the PPP's coalition partners were with her party, it was not worried about the current crises. “Our government is stable as our coalition partners are standing by us,” she said. Wahab said it was an important phase in civil-military relations.
“I would like to tell the people that this is the defining moment to redefine civil-military relations. This time we will have to respond to this challenge,” she said.
She regretted the role played by PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif in the current crisis, which she said was a result of Sharif's going to the apex court over the memo issue.
“Mr Sharif did not learn from history. On whose direction did he go to the court?” she asked.
Wahad said the lawyer of Mansoor Ijaz, the man who made public the alleged memo, was a crony of Sharif and was also close to the security establishment.
“If we see these links, we will be able to ascertain from where this memogate issue came,” Wahab said.