The Pakistani government is seriously contemplating the removal of powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha against the backdrop of a standoff on a memo alleging an army plot to seize power,media reports suggested on Monday.
The governments extreme unhappiness with Kayani,currently on a three-year extension,and Pasha,who received a one-year extension in service last year,is an open secret,The News daily quoted its sources as saying.
The two generals adopted a diabolically opposing stance to that of the government on the alleged memo that sought US help to stave off a possible military coup in Pakistan in May,the report said. The Memogate scandal could cause extremely serious problems for the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and some top leaders in their individual capacity if it is properly investigated,the report added.
Commenting on the possible response of the security establishment if the two generals were fired,a source told the daily: Were such an action to take place,and even if the concerned officers accepted the decision and went home,nobody knows how the institution will react.
The source contended that serious national security issues were at stake and this consideration can easily outweigh other priorities and restraints,regardless of future judicial or constitutional repercussions of any such forced retaliatory action by the military.
Speculation about the possible removal of the generals began doing the rounds after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani criticised the army last week,saying it was unacceptable for the force to act as a state within a state.
The report claimed key players involved in framing US foreign and military policy were playing an active role in encouraging Islamabad into taking the decision to sack the two generals.
Former CIA official Bruce Riedel and former National Security Advisor James Jones are among those influencing both the US intelligence and military to support Pakistan in such a move,it said. Meanwhile,The Express Tribune quoted a military source as saying that if Kayani or Pasha were sacked,the army might approach the Supreme Court. It reported that the army chief had held a series of consultations with top commanders in recent days and a consensus was reached that there would be no direct military intervention if the government decides to sack the army and intelligence chiefs,the source said.
The News also suggested that Pasha and Kayani had been held responsible for forcing Pakistan to adopt an extremely harsh stance towards the US after last months NATO airstrike. Though Kayani and Pasha are both on extension,the Prime Minister has the power under the constitution to remove them at any time.
Gilani on Monday denied media reports he was planning to sack Kayani and Pasha,saying the military supported democracy.
In a related development Monday,presidential aide Fauzia Wahab said Asif Ali Zardari will not file a response in the apex court over the memo,a move that could put him in confrontation with the court which earlier said he cannot presume immunity.