Pakistani President Warns of Anti-Democratic Conspiracy

Posted December 27th, 2011 at 8:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday urged his countrymen to guard against anti-democratic conspiracies, following a week of speculation about a growing rift between the country's civilian and military leaders.

President Zardari called on “democratic forces and patriotic Pakistanis” to foil conspiracies “against democracy and democratic institutions.” He made his comments on the fourth anniversary of the assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto

Mr. Zardari's civilian government is facing mounting criticism over a secret memo, sent months ago, appealing for U.S. help to prevent a feared military coup.

Both the government and army officials have made recent efforts to diffuse the political tension.

Pakistan's Army General Ashfaq Kayani last week denied rumors that he was plotting an overthrow of President Zardari's increasingly unpopular government.

On Monday, Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani denied media reports that he was planning to fire General Kayani and the head of the country's powerful spy agency, the ISI.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry on Friday also moved to allay fears about a possible coup, saying a military takeover is out of the question.

The existence of the memo came to light in October, when Pakistani-American businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote a column in The Financial Times accusing Pakistan's ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani of writing a letter to garner U.S. assistance to prevent a military coup.

The letter was reportedly sent in May to Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military official at the time. The ambassador was forced to resign.

Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari have faced increasing pressure to resign over the memo incident. Pakistan's Supreme Court is currently deliberating whether to order an investigation of the memo.