The rift between Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari seems to be widening by the day, says a media report.
Gilani "is in a defiant mood and wants to run the government as the real chief executive", The News reported Tuesday.
Quoting informed sources, it said 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".
A case in point was the recent visit here of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown when Zardari and not Gilani represented Pakistan at the joint press conference with the dignitary.
Noting that Gilani had "raised a hue and cry" over the issue, the newspaper said he "insisted that protocol demanded that such a press conference should have been addressed by the two prime ministers".
There are now reports that Zardari is planning to become prime minister after annulling the controversial 17th amendment to the constitution that former military dictator Pervez Musharraf had enacted, transferring all powers from the prime minister's office to the presidency.
More important, the amendment laid down that any candidate contesting for parliament had to be a graduate. Zardari has only a high school certificate.
According to The News, one consequence of the Gilani-Zardari tussle is that three key bureaucratic positions directly associated with the prime minister have remained vacant for the past few months.
These include the principal secretary to the prime minister, the secretary (establishment) and the secretary (cabinet). All three report directly to the prime minister.
The former principal secretary to the prime minister Siraj Shamsuddin, who was considered a Zardari confidante, was recently relieved of his post and named Pakistan's executive director at the Asian Development Bank.
"A PM Secretariat source claimed that Siraj was pushed out because Gilani was not comfortable with him. It is said that on one occasion Gilani was so angry with his former principal secretary that he tossed an official file, which Siraj wanted him to sign, hitting the wall of his office," The News said.
"The file, it is said, contained the case of re-appointment of sacked employees. The issue of re-appointment of thousands of political appointees of (former prime minister) Benazir Bhutto's second regime is being pressed by the presidency but Gilani is reluctant to do any thing that might land him in trouble later on," the newspaper added.
"This very issue, it is said, was the first major point of difference between Zardari and Gilani," The News said.
Similarly after the sudden removal of cabinet secretary Ghiasuddin and his namesake, establishment secretary Ghiasuddin Ahmed, a few weeks back, both positions remain vacant.
"The two Ghiasuddins were removed in a late night order issued by the prime minister amid unconfirmed reports that they were in direct contact with the presidency and used to get orders from there," The News said.