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Kayani absent at dinner hosted by Zardari

world Updated: Dec 25, 2011 02:03 IST
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Amidst strains between the civilian government and the military, Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was conspicuous by his absence at an official dinner hosted today by President Asif Ali Zardari.

The powerful army chief stayed away from the dinner hosted by Zardari in honour of China's top diplomat, State Councillor Dai Bingguo, official sources said.

Kayani was among those invited to the event, the sources told PTI.

Kayani and other senior officers of the army's General Headquarters did not attend another banquet hosted yesterday by Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for Dai and his entourage.

However, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee chairman Gen Khalid Shameem Wynne and the air force and navy chiefs attended the event.

The army chief was invited to yesterday's banquet but his office informed the Prime Minister's House that he would be unavailable.

The Chief of General Staff, Lt Gen Waheed Arshad, was to represent Kayani at the event but he could not travel to Islamabad from Rawalpindi as the highway connecting the two cities was blocked people protesting against a shortage of gas.

The presence or absence of the top military leadership at events organised by the civilian government is closely watched by the media and in political circles, as it is considered a reflection of the state of relations between the army and the government.