M A I N   N E W S

All set for showdown
Under fire, Pak PM stands firm
Sticks to his remarks against Army chief Kayani
Afzal Khan & Agencies

Monday Action

Pak SC will resume hearing a case alleging the govt has defied court’s order to re-open graft cases against Zardari
An SC-appointed panel that accepted Army Chief’s request for a probe and rejected govt’s opposition, to record submissions in Memogate
US businessman Mansoor Ijaz likely to fly into a military airfield, given visa on arrival and flown in a copter to depose before judicial panel
National Assembly to vote on a resolution expressing trust in leadership

Islamabad, January 15
Pakistan today braced itself for a Monday showdown between the elected government and Parliament on the one hand and the Army and the Supreme Court on the other. The jury is still out on whether tomorrow is going to see high-voltage drama or whether it is going to fizzle out into an anti climax.

The week-end had raised hopes of reconciliation, with the Army Chief calling on President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani attending a meeting of the Defence Committee comprising all the top military commanders. But a day after he declared that the armed forces were a ‘pillar of strength’ and guardians of the nation’s security and integrity, a defiant Pakistan Prime Minister on Sunday asserted that he was answerable to the Parliament and not to any individual.

He was replying to a question on media reports that the Army Chief had urged President Zardari to secure a retraction from Gilani on his reported comment that the Army and the ISI chief had acted unconstitutionally by filing affidavits on Memogate without clearing them with the government first.

Significantly, however, Gilani told the media that he had never said that he wanted to serve a full, five-year term. “ All that I had said was that people have given this Parliament a mandate for five years and the Parliament will last its term,” he added, immediately reviving speculation that he could be asked to step down as part of a compromise formula.

But Gilani was firm in reiterating that he stood by what he had said to a Chinese media delegation and that they were not meant as an accusation. The Defence Secretary, he pointed out, had admitted to an ignorance of rules while forwarding the affidavits to the SC and hence was dismissed.

Meanwhile, there were unconfirmed reports that the National Accountability Bureau had written to Swiss authorities with the request to re-open graft cases against President Zardari and others. Zardari has consistently taken the stand that no such letter would be sent to Swiss authorities as long as he remains in office because that would amount to a trial of his wife’s grave. His wife, Benazir Bhutto, had also benefitted from the exemption from prosecution granted by the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO).

Meanwhile, there are reports that Mansoor Ijaz, the American businessman of Pakistani descent, will be flying into Pakistan tomorrow. Reports suggest that he would be flying in a chartered flight, that will land at a military base, from where he would be flown in a helicopter to depose before the Judicial Commission investigating Memogate. Ijaz had claimed last year that he had delivered a memo on behalf of Pakistan’s government , soliciting US help to rein in the Army. While President Zardari and PM Gilani had denied any role in drafting or delivering the memo, Ijaz insinuated that Pakistan’s then Ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, had got in touch with him at the behest of Zardari. Haqqani has resigned since.




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