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Pak PM Raps Defence Minister For Kayani Remarks

Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday upbraided his Defence Minister for his "premature, inopportune and uncalled for" remarks that powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will not be granted an extension, saying a
PTI May 20, 2010 23:03 IST
PTI
Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday upbraided his Defence Minister for his "premature, inopportune and uncalled for" remarks that powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani will not be granted an extension, saying a decision will be made at the appropriate time.  

Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar should not have made such a statement, the Prime Minister said during an interaction with senior Pakistani journalists.  

He rapped Mukhtar for his "premature, inopportune and uncalled for" comments.

The government had not made any decision on the issue of granting an extension in service to 58-year-old Kayani, who will complete his tenure in November this year, and a decision will be made "when the time comes," he said.  

Mukhtar, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, had created a buzz in political circles when he told journalists in Lahore over the weekend that the government would not grant an extension to Kayani and that the General himself had not sought an extension.  

During recent interactions with the media, Prime Minister Gilani has parried all questions about granting an extension to Kayani.  

Gilani has also dismissed reports about differences between him and the presidency on this issue and repeatedly said the government will make a decision on the matter "when the time comes."  

Gilani has often described Kayani   who became army chief when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf quit the post in November 2007   as "pro-democracy and a highly professional person."  

The Premier is also perceived as being closer to the military establishment than Zardari, whose relations with the army have not been very warm.

In recent months, Gilani witnessed several manoeuvres being conducted by the military while Zardari, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, was conspicuous by his absence.  

Following the passage of a landmark Constitutional reforms package, the power to appoint the three service chiefs has been transferred from the President to the Prime Minister.  

However, observers believe it is highly unlikely that Gilani will be able to act on his own in such matters as Zardari continues to be in complete control of the ruling Pakistan People's Party. PTI