Amid fears of a military coup in Pakistan, Britain has put its elite Special Air Service (SAS) on a stand-by mode for an emergency evacuation of Britons from the country, a media report said on Sunday.
As the country struggles with the twin problems of severe floods and terrorist activity, the special forces regiment of the British Army across the border in Afghanistan are drawing up plans to remove staff from the Islamabad embassy within four hours, The Express daily reported today.
Britons working in the country have been put on a register and will be told to gather at an assembly point at a time of crisis.
The plan is a sign of Pakistan's political fragility, the report said.
Last week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told journalists Pakistan's elected government will complete its tenure as there is no threat to democracy and the army has no intention of coming to power.
"The army neither intends to come to power nor will it come to power. The judiciary is independent and pro-democratic," he said at his official residence in Islamabad on Friday.
There is no threat to democracy as the civilian government came to power after making numerous sacrifices and winning the 2008 election, he said.
"Despite this if some people are engaged in a debate (about a threat to the government and the army coming to power), they are wasting their time," Gilani said.
Following widespread criticism of the Pakistan People's Party-led government's poor handling of relief efforts in the wake of the unprecedented floods that swept the country and affected over 20 million people, there has been considerable speculation that the government is facing a threat.
Britain's High Commissioner Adam Thomson and his staff have been working round the clock to ease the plight of those made homeless by floods.
Up to eight million are still depend on aid.
According to the report, hardliners in Pakistan's army are becoming impatient with the crisis and want faster solutions and a more determined effort to stamp out the terrorist menace.