Pakistan military not happy with government ineptitude

NY Times:

The Pakistani military, angered by the inept handling of the country’s devastating floods and alarmed by a collapse of the economy, is pushing for a shake-up of the elected government, and in the longer term, even the removal of President Asif Ali Zardari and his top lieutenants.

The military, preoccupied by a war against militants and reluctant to assume direct responsibility for the economic crisis, has made clear it is not eager to take over the government, as it has many times before, military officials and politicians said.

But the government’s performance since the floods, which have left 20 million people homeless and the nation dependent on handouts from skeptical foreign donors, has laid bare the deep underlying tensions between military and civilian leaders.

American officials, too, say it has left them increasingly disillusioned with Mr. Zardari, a deeply unpopular president who was elected two and a half years ago on a wave of sympathy after the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

In a meeting on Monday that was played on the front page of Pakistan’s newspapers, the army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, confronted the president and his prime minister, Yousaf Raza Gilani, over incompetence and corruption in the government.

According to the press and Pakistani officials familiar with the conversation, the general demanded that they dismiss at least some ministers in the oversized 60-member cabinet, many of whom face corruption charges.

The civilian government has so far resisted the general’s demand. But the meeting was widely interpreted by the Pakistani news media, which has grown increasingly hostile to the president, as a rebuke to the civilian politicians and as having pushed the government to the brink.


Pakistan's Dawn reported:

President Asif Ali Zardari has disclosed to his party men that not just the domestic opposition but international forces also were whipping up a storm against the government, but vowed not to submit to any dictation.

According to insiders who listened to his blunt talk at the Presidency during a dinner hosted by him for PPP’s parliamentarians on Monday night, the president surprised party members by stating that the Americans might have felt disappointed with the government for not meeting all their demands. That, however, he said, could be renegotiated “with us or whoever succeeds us”.

Unhappy with the local media, Mr Zardari showed displeasure with even the international press for running reports against the present set-up.

President Zardari, who is also the People’s Party’s co-chairman, had the same advice for party hotheads angry with the coalition allies.

The president said he knew how the MQM had treated PPP workers in the past. However, he declared that he would not take revenge and continue working for reconciliation with all political forces.

Although he avoided passing any harsh, explicit remarks against the judiciary, at one point he recalled that judges had kept putting off his bail applications.

Something is going on, but does not appear that the government is being candid with the local media. I am sure the US has leaned on him a good bit about the enemy use of Pakistan territory and violation of their sovereignty. The government is getting pressured from several angles, but it finds itself not in a strong position to deal with any side.

They need the money from the US more than ever, but they worry about the US returning fire on bad guys on their side of the border. I think they have more important things to think about now like handling flood relief and rebuilding infrastructure.


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