ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani denied a military intervention was imminent against his government over a secret memo that sought US help to prevent a supposed coup.
Tensions between the army and government appear to have soared in recent days as intelligence chiefs demanded an inquiry into the scandal that threatens to implicate President Asif Ali Zardari, who is abroad following an illness.
“There is no room for a martial law in Pakistan,” Gilani said in a brief televised interaction with the media in Lahore, two days after he met army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s military, which has staged four coups, remains the chief power-broker in the country.
But Gilani described the memo as a “non-issue” which was being blown up unnecessarily.
The scandal relates to a memo that sought US intervention to prevent a feared military coup in exchange for overhauling Pakistan’s security leadership after US troops killed Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital on May 2.
The existence of the document came to light when American-Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote in the Financial Times that Zardari feared the military might overthrow his government.
Ijaz accused Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, a close aide of Zardari’s, of crafting the memo with the president's support.
Opposition leader Nawaz Sharif filed a petition in the Supreme Court on December 1, demanding to know who was responsible for the document.
In separate responses submitted to the court late Thursday, the attorney general said the petition should be dropped, but Kayani said the memo impacted “national security”.
“Therefore, there may be a need to fully examine the facts and circumstances leading to the conception and issuance of the memo,” the army chief said in his response, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
The court is scheduled to resume hearing Sharif's petition on Monday.