This news item originally appeared at Washintonexaminer.com
Pakistan Army Denies Involvement in Prime Minister’s Ouster
Pak Army denies any involvement in events leading to the ouster of the nation’s prime minister saying the accusations, some of which come from the U.S., are “based on false narratives that do more harm than good for both nations.”
A senior Pakistani military official told The Washington Examiner his nation’s military has been falsely accused for years of using various insurgency groups, branches of government or political parties for their own benefit.
Recent charges that the military, with the cooperation of the courts, orchestrated the removal last week of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, are the “latest in erroneous accusations,” he said.
Gilani was replaced last week by water and power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf after Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified Gilani for failing to investigate corruption charges against President Asif Ali Zardari.
“At first we were being accused of being in cahoots with the government — and now with the Supreme Court — to have the government removed, ” the Pakistani military official said. “We are not loyal to an individual but to the constitution of our country. Don’t place us in a camp because it suits the narrative of others for us to be placed in that camp.”
“Now we are the villains,” the official added. “If we overstep our mandate it undermines us and our country’s constitution. We did not do this.”
Still, some senior U.S. military and government officials contend that Pakistan’s military and its Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, which is similar to America’s CIA, have been directing a systematic removal of government officials friendly to the United States.
Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has advised the last four presidents on South Asia and the Middle East, said “the army and the court wants to remove President Zardari and have tried one tactic after another.”
“The army is politically powerful and is believed to be steadily chipping away at Zardari’s power behind the scenes,” said Jim Phillips, a senior defense analyst with The Heritage Foundation.
The Army, added Phillips, would be happy to undermine the current government to prevent its civilian leaders from threatening its power and privileges.
A U.S. Official, with knowledge of the region, said “the political system is under strain but it would be an overstatement to say it’s at a breaking point.”
However, Riedel said. the hardliners and the “political chaos in Islamabad makes any chance of an improvement in US-Pakistan relations very unlikely.”
“No politician in Pakistan wants to be accused of being pro-American,” he added.
The Pakistani military official said that contrary to reports, his military is in constant communication with its U.S. counterparts.
“It’s a cautious and very slow relationship but it has not degenerated and we are not in the finals of divorce proceedings with the U.S.,” he said. “It’s painful but we’re working through it.”