Islamabad, Nov 17: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has met powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for the second time in as many days, amid reports of tensions between the military and civilian government over secret communications with the Obama administration.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani too was present at the meeting between Zardari and Kayani at the presidency late last night.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar gave no details about the meeting beyond saying that the three leaders discussed the “current security situation in the country”.
However, the meeting assumes significance as it was the second one between Zardari and Kayani since Tuesday and was held in the wake of reported tensions between the military and PPP-led government over a secret memorandum purportedly sent by Zardari to the Obama administration seeking assistance in preventing a possible military takeover in May.
An unnamed military official was quoted by The Express Tribune as saying that the army had expressed “serious concerns” over the issue of the secret memorandum and that Kayani raised the matter with the government.
There have been several indications of fresh strains in ties between the military and civilian government, with analysts noting the absence of Pakistan's top four military officials, including Kayani, from an official banquet hosted by Zardari at the presidency on Monday.
The government has called Pakistan's Ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani to Islamabad to explain his position on the memorandum purportedly sent by Zardari to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen through Pakistani-American Mansoor Ijaz.
Haqqani yesterday offered to resign in a letter sent to Zardari, saying he was the target of a vilification campaign. In an article written in the Financial Times last month, Ijaz said he was asked by an unnamed Pakistani official to draft and send a memorandum to Mullen.
Though Pakistan government denied the existence of the document, Mullen's spokesman yesterday confirmed the Admiral had received the memorandum but had taken no action on it. Pakistani media and analysts have speculated, without offering any proof, that the unnamed official referred to by Ijaz was Haqqani.
Prime Minister Gilani yesterday told the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament that Haqqani would have to “come and explain the issue to the leadership”.
The Express Tribune reported that the security establishment had been seeking the removal of Haqqani. It said the army was pushing the government to appoint Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir as the envoy to Washington.
Meanwhile, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan has said there is no substance in rumours about differences between the political and military leadership.