Things in Pakistan – the sole Islamic state armed with nuclear weapons – could be getting very interesting:
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani fired his defense secretary, a retired general and confidant of Pakistan’s army chief, on Wednesday as the civilian government appeared headed for a collision with the country’s powerful military leadership.
Mr. Gilani accused the dismissed secretary of defense, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a former general and corps commander, of “gross misconduct and illegal action” and of “creating misunderstanding between the state institutions.” He replaced Mr. Lodhi with a civilian aide, Nargis Sethi.
Military officials warned on Wednesday evening that the army would be likely to refuse to work with Ms. Sethi, signaling the possibility of a serious rupture between the army and the civilian government. “The army will not react violently, but it will not cooperate with the new secretary of defense,” said a military officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation.
Tensions between the government of President Asif Ali Zardari and the army leadership have grown worse since the publication of a controversial memo purportedly drafted by the government shortly after an American raid last year killed Osama bin Laden. The memo appeared to solicit help in stopping a possible coup by the humiliated Pakistani military.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the army chief, called an emergency meeting of his top commanders for Thursday.
Another fresh hell.