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The gloves are off in Pakistan

Islamabad - Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in an unprecedented tongue-lashing against the military on Thursday said that it is “unacceptable” if the army “considers itself a state within a state” and warned that “conspiracies” are being hatched to “pack up” his government.
Gilani also strongly criticised the army for failing to detect Osama bin Laden’s presence in the country and said the government stood firmly with the institutions and fully protected them after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

At a function to commemorate the birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gilani said, “I want to make it clear that there are intrigues and conspiracies going on and the conspiracy is to pack up the elected government.”

“I want to tell them that whether we are in government or opposition or among the people, we will fight for the rights of the people of Pakistan,” he said.

People will have to decide whether they want “elected people or a dictatorship”, he added, as talk of a rift between his government and the military gathers pace.

The PM made a veiled reference to the differences between his government and the army, saying “no institution can be a state within a state”.

He added: “Nobody can say they are not under the government. Every institution of this country, including the Ministry of Defence, is under the Prime Minister. There should be no ambiguity. Nobody can claim that he is independent... if any individual thinks they are not under the government, they are mistaken. They are under the government and will remain under the government.”

Speaking later in the National Assembly, Gilani further criticised Pakistan’s security establishment.

Responding to a point of order of Leader of the Opposition Choudhary Nisar Ali Khan regarding the reply of the Defence Ministry to the Supreme Court that the Army and the ISI are not subordinate to the ministry, Gilani said, “If the Army considers itself a state within a state, then it is unacceptable,” APP news agency reported.

“If they (army) say they are not under the MoD, then we should get out of this slavery, then this parliament has no importance, this system has no importance, then you are not sovereign,” he said.

On questions about visas issued to US security personnel, Gilani said: “We want to ask which visa did he (bin Laden) use to come (to Pakistan). How did he enter Pakistan. That was the cause for which parliament passed a resolution, why was security not taken care of”

He said the government had stood by the security establishment. “In the worst circumstances we doubled their salaries. They have to be accountable to parliament.” PTI

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