Are cracks emerging in the relationship between Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani? If reports in the Pakistani media are to be believed, then this could well be true.
According to an article carried on the web edition of the daily, The News, Gilani was “running out of patience over the increasing interference of the presidency in the day-to-day running of the government due to which differences between the top two offices of the country have already cropped up.”
The Pakistani PM, the article said, had raised a hue and cry over British PM Gordon Brown’s joint press conference with Zardari during the former’s recent visit to Pakistan. “Gilani insisted that the protocol demanded that such a press conference should have been addressed by the two prime ministers,” it said. The Pakistan People’s Party denied reports of a rift.
It was the result of the tension between the two offices, the paper said, that three key bureaucratic positions directly associated with the prime minister were vacant for long. These include the principal secretary to the prime minister, the secretary establishment and the secretary cabinet.
Siraj Shamsuddin, the former principal secretary to the prime minister and a close confidante of President Zardari was recently pushed out of the PM Secretariat because Gilani was not comfortable with him, the paper said quoting sources. A major point of difference between Zardari and Gilani was the issue of re-appointment of thousands of political appointees of Benazir Bhutto’s second regime, which is being pressed by the Presidency but Gilani is reluctant to do any thing that might land him in trouble later on.
Pakistan suspends NATO supplies to tackle militants
Pakistan suspended supplies going to foreign forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday as security forces launched an offensive against militants in the Khyber Pass region, a government official said. Khyber’s top administrator, Tariq Hayat, said a curfew had been imposed and the main road leading to the Afghan border had been sealed.