Gilani's Office Denies He Spoke To UK Envoy About Coup

Islamabad, Jan 13: The Pakistan government today denied a media report that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had called the British envoy and sought his support to prevent a feared military takeover.The spokesman for the
gilani s office denies he spoke to uk envoy about...
PTI 13 Jan 2012, 09:48 PM IST

Islamabad, Jan 13: The Pakistan government today denied a media report that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had called the British envoy and sought his support to prevent a feared military takeover.

The spokesman for the Prime Minister's House “strongly denied” the news report that Gilani spoke to the British High Commissioner last week “seeking British help to pre-empt a coup”.

“The Prime Minister has not spoken to the British High Commissioner in this regard and the Associated Press story is totally unfounded,” the spokesman said in a brief statement.  The “democratic government led by Prime Minister draws its strength from the people of Pakistan and not from any foreign power”, the spokesman said.

The media report had quoted an unnamed British official and a Pakistani official as saying that the Prime Minister had made a “panicky” call to British envoy Adam Thompson and expressed fears that the Pakistan Army might be about to stage a coup.

The call suggested there was a “genuine fear at the highest level of the Pakistani government” that the army might carry out a coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to topple the civilian leadership, the report said. 

The report came against the backdrop of escalating tensions between the weak civilian government on the one side and the army and judiciary on the other.

The army is engaged in a standoff with the government over an alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a possible coup after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year. 

The Supreme Court is pressuring the government to reopen high-profile graft cases and has warned that action could be taken against the President and Prime Minister if they failed to act on its orders.

An AP report from Islambad had said, Gilani telephoned the top British diplomat in the country this week expressing fears that the Pakistani army might be about to stage a coup, a British official and an official in Islamabad said today.

The call, which one official said was “panicky”, suggests there was or perhaps still is a genuine fear at the highest level of the Pakistani government that army might carry out a coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to topple the civilian leadership.

Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani asked High Commissioner Adam Thomson for Britain to support his embattled government, according to the officials, who didn't give their names because of the sensitivity of the issue. It's unclear if the British government took any action.

Such is the weakness of state institutions, Pakistani leaders have often looked to foreign powers, especially the United States and Gulf countries, to intervene in domestic affairs, mediate disputes between feuding power centers or “guarantee” agreements between them.

The army, which has staged four coups in Pakistan's history and is believed to consider itself the only true custodian of the country's interests, has never liked the civilian government headed by Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari.

But a scandal that erupted late last year, which centered on an unsigned memo sent to Washington asking for its help in heading off a supposed coup following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden, has brought the army and civilian government into near-open confrontation.

While most analysts say army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has little appetite for a coup, they say the generals may be happy to allow the Supreme Court to dismiss the government by “constitutional means.”

 
   
 

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