24 Dec 2011

Army chief denies coup intentions

12:34 pm on 24 December 2011

Pakistan's army chief has dismissed reports that the military is planning to overthrow the civilian government.

In a clear reference to the army, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday spoke of a conspiracy.

''There can't be a state within the state,'' he said. ''They have to be answerable to this parliament.''

The BBC reports tensions are high in the wake of a leaked memo that asked for US help to prevent a military coup.

But an army statement issued on Friday said General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani ''strongly dispelled the speculation of any military takeover''.

The rumours were ''misleading and being used as a bogey to divert the focus from the real issues''.

Addressing troops near the Afghan border, the general ''reiterated that (the) Pakistan Army has and will continue to support the democratic process in the country.''

The BBC reports Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikar Chaudhry also moved on Friday to play down worries over a possible coup.

"There is no question of a takeover. Gone are the days when people used to get validation for unconstitutional steps from the courts," he said.

The military is the strongest institution in Pakistan and has staged three coups.