Washington, Jan 12 : Pentagon Press Secretary George Little has said, US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin E Dempsey, has spoken to Pakistani Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
“My understanding is that Chairman Dempsey has been in contact with Gen Kayani. It was a productive and professional conversation.
I'm not going to get into the details. But that call has taken place,” Little told reporters.
The timing of the call was not divulged, except that it has taken place within recent days.
Meanwhile, the US has said it had not sought or received any assurances from the Pakistani army that it would not stage a coup.
“I'm not aware that we've sought any assurances, and I don't think we're aware that we've been given any. This is a matter for Pakistani officials and the government leaders there, military and civilian, to work out,” said Navy Capt John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman.
Yesterday, Pakistan plunged into fresh turmoil with the powerful army warning Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of “grievous consequences” for his recent criticism of the military and ISI, and the Premier taking them head on by sacking the defence secretary over the memo scandal.
Reacting sharply to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's contention that the army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had acted in an illegal manner in the memo scandal, a terse army statement had said these remarks could have “very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences”.
“There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled against COAS and DG ISI (army chief and spy chief) and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country,” said the army's statement.
“This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country.”
Just minutes after the strongly worded warning by the army, Gilani sacked Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, considered close to the army chief, marking an escalation in the row.
The fast-paced developments came as the government was on a collision course with the judiciary too, with the Supreme Court warning yesterday that action could be taken against both the President and Prime Minister for failing to act on a court order to reopen corruption case against President Asif Ali Zardari.
Two days after Gilani had said that the army and ISI chiefs had filed affidavits on the memo issue in the Supreme Court without obtaining the government's permission, the powerful military said there could be “no allegation more serious” than that made by the premier.
Gilani had made the remarks during an interview with the online edition of China's state-run People's Daily on Monday.
He said replies filed by army chief Kayani and ISI chief Pasha to the Supreme Court in connection with the alleged memo did not have the approval of the competent authority as required under the rules of business.
He further said no formal proposal seeking the approval of the competent authority for these two replies was initiated by the Defence Ministry.
No approval was obtained for the replies from the Defence Minister and any official action by a government functionary without the government's prior approval is “unconstitutional and illegal”, Gilani had said.
Sources said the military leadership had gathered details about Gilani's remarks during the interview. The matter was then assessed by Kayani and top army commanders yesterday so that the military could issue a formal response, the sources told PTI.
The military statement contended that Gilani's remarks did not “take into account” some “important facts”. It further contended that the army and ISI chiefs were not responsible for obtaining approval for the replies they had sent to the Supreme Court.
The statement said the army and ISI chiefs were named as respondents in petitions filed in the apex court regarding the alleged memo and the court had “served notices directly to the respondents”.
This was not objected to by the Attorney General, it said. The responses of the army and ISI chiefs were sent to the Defence Ministry for submission to the Supreme Court through the Attorney General.
A letter was dispatched to the Attorney General and the apex court, informing them that the replies of the army and ISI chiefs had been submitted to the Defence Ministry.
“It is emphasised that copies of the statements of the two respondents were not forwarded directly to the Supreme Court,” the military statement said.
“Responsibility for moving summaries and obtaining approvals of competent authority thereafter lay with the relevant ministries and not with the respondents,” the statement added.
The military pointed out that following a meeting between the Prime Minister and the army chief on December 16 last year, Gilani had stated in a press release that the replies submitted to the apex court were “in response to the notice of the court through proper channel and in accordance with the rules of business”.
“No objections were raised before and thereafter on the legality and constitutional status of the replies, at any time, during the last more than three weeks of hearing of the case by the Honourable Supreme Court,” the statement said.
The military contended that the army and ISI chiefs, in their responses to the Supreme Court, were “obliged to state facts as known to them on the memo issue”.
The issue of jurisdiction and maintainability of the petitions involved the apex court and the government, it said.
“Any expectation that (the army chief) will not state the facts is neither constitutional nor legal. Allegiance to state and the Constitution is and will always remain prime consideration for the (army chief), who in this case has followed the book,” the statement said.