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Pak army chief gets tough, asks Zardari, Gilani to act on corruption

world Updated: Sep 30, 2010 14:56 IST

Amid speculation of a military takeover in Pakistan, its powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has bluntly told the civilian leadership to put its house in order through measures like a crackdown on corruption and improvement in its "faltering" response to the devastating floods.

Kayani "conveyed a plain message" to President Asif Ali Zardari and Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in their recent meeting
that the civilian leadership "must put its house in order," a senior Pakistani security official was quoted as saying by
The Washington Post.

He forcefully demanded that the government crackdown on corruption, take control of the plummeting economy and improve its faltering response to the flood disaster.

Kayani bluntly stated military concerns during the meeting which took place on Monday, the report said.

However, the paper said, the US and Pakistani officials dismissed speculation that the military, which has ruled
Pakistan for much of its 63-year history, is contemplating a takeover.

"We don't have the appetite, the resources or the intent to meddle in politics," an unnamed Pakistani military official
was quoted as saying. "In our past experience, it hasn't worked. It only worsens the situation further."

In Washington, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters yesterday that he had not
heard anything like that from Kayani when he spoke to him last.

"In the conversation I had with him the other day, I didn't speak at all about that, the issue, and I've certainly
seen the reports," he said.

"I haven't had any recent communications with him about that at all, although I did speak to him a couple of days ago
specifically about the cross-border -- the stories that were out with cross border, which was a self-defence operation that took place very close to the border, and it's certainly not the first time that that's ever happened," Mullen said in response to a question on NATO air attacks in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, CIA Director Leon Panetta met ISI Chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha in Islamabad yesterday. The meeting assumes
significance in view of the unearthing of an al-Qaeda plot in which the terrorists were planning a Mumbai-type terrorist
attacks in several European countries.

In September, the CIA had dramatically escalated strikes into Pakistan from unmanned drone aircraft, targeting al-Qaeda sanctuaries, as well as the Afghan-Taliban and the allied Haqqani network that fight inside Afghanistan.

The increase in drone attacks is attributed to these fresh intelligence reports.