Thawing relations: Another general visits the Presidency

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 10:00:06 by



Amid rapid developments on the political front, President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday met Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCSC) General Khalid Shameem Wynne.

The meeting came just hours after the Supreme Court decided to begin contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for the government’s failure to obey its order to pursue corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari.

The only official statement released after the meeting said that the two discussed ‘professional matters pertaining to the armed forces.’ However, according to sources, the meeting between the president and CJCSC was allegedly a follow-up of the face-to-face talks between Zardari and army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, held over the weekend.

In Saturday’s meeting, Kayani reportedly conveyed his concern, shared by his top commanders, over the prime minister’s outburst over the army’s stance on the Memogate case. Sources told The Express Tribune that Kayani requested the president to persuade the premier to either retract or clarify his statement.

Other sources claim that the meeting between Zardari and Wynne was part of ongoing backdoor efforts to strike a ‘deal’ between the civilian government and military leadership. Another source close to the PM told The Express Tribune that Gilani may resign in the face of mounting pressure from the Supreme Court and the powerful military establishment.

The Chaudhrys of Gujarat are believed to be playing a key role in the backchannel talks with Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who is allegedly eyeing the prime ministerial slot. The Chaudhrys are reportedly lobbying on the grounds that the former Punjab chief minister would be accepted by the military establishment and could play a vital role in defusing tensions between opposition parties, a source close to The Express Tribune said.

Albeit, according to sources, the sticking point for all negotiations is believed to be the future of President Zardari himself. It is believed that the military has been pushing for his ouster through legal means.

However, ever since Gilani took it upon himself to confront the army chief and director general Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head-on, the focus appears to have shifted away from the president.

The beleaguered ruling government is now being rumoured to be more amenable to the idea of Gilani’s resignation in return for a ‘ceasefire’ against the president. However, sources confirmed to The Express Tribune that nothing had been finalised yet, as several alternate options were also being discussed.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2012.

Islamabad News Sources -2

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