ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - At the height of the storm which swept Pakistan after the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden, Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani spoke for 1-hour, then told his officers they could ask whatever they wanted, and lit a cigarette. This is a very delicate situation, he said, in answer to a question about relations with the United States at the National Defence University on May 19. Its not an easy one. If we come out of it, keep our relevance and show them we are part of the solution, not part of the problem, we will succeed, Kayani said in one of a series of town hall meetings he held to revive army morale. Those meetings have since fuelled speculation - particularly in the United States - that the most powerful man in Pakistan, by opening himself up to questions, is fighting for survival. Participants at the meeting, however, said Kayani showed no outward sign of being under pressure as he sat in full dress uniform at a table on the same level as his audience. Equipped only with a file, ash tray and glass of water and facing rows of some 80 officers along with a few civilians, he patiently answered questions from all ranks. In uniform, we tend to see everything in black and white, Kayani said when a young colonel asked why Pakistan kept a relationship with United States if Washington did not trust it. In the real world there are a lot of grey areas and you have to deal with it. A Reuters correspondent attended the meeting, but since it was off-the-record did not report it until after participants themselves relayed to the media versions of what Kayani had said. Kayanis comments were reported by participants and verified by Reuters. The Pakistan Army, the last line of Defence in a country battling a growing militant insurgency, has come under intense pressure since US forces found and killed bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2. Yet no one expects Kayani to step down any time soon, or at least not until he has restored confidence within the army. And nor do they expect his most senior officers to turn against him. The army as an institution is under attack so if the Corps Commanders ask him to leave, that unleashes a very explosive dynamic, said Imtiaz Gul at the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad. Thats why the Corps Commanders will never ask him to step down. In inviting questions, Kayani was following a military tradition where officers encourage their men to express their doubts before going into battle, but after the orders are given, expect them to be followed without question.