Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has rejected as ‘absurd’ the rumours that his government planned to sack the Chief of Army Staff or the DG ISI. While talking to the press at Prime Minister’s House on Monday, he said that the government would not go into a misadventure, which in the past had resulted in the derailment of democracy. However, the reason he gave, that one did not change generals in the middle of a war, while talking about the extensions given to them, meant that both the COAS and the DG ISI were considered necessary for the USA’s war on terror. This statement was the first he had made after he had lambasted the military for conspiring against his government during back-to-back speeches on Friday, and after the COAS and the DG ISI had filed separate replies to the Supreme Court in the memogate case, which did not uphold the Prime Minister’s version, which began by challenging the court’s jurisdiction in the case.

Mr Gilani also dismissed the notion that there was any tension between the government and the army, again something which is supposed to have been brought to a head by the memogate affair, into which the government does not want the apex court to probe. The government instead wants the probe conducted by the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, even though it has a PPP majority, and will presumably support the government’s stance in an affair in which the President may be viewed in an unsavoury regard. The Prime Minister seems to want to call back the speeches he made. He must keep in mind that the multiple crises besetting the nation, with the worsening of the gas crisis merely the latest, means that the nation cannot afford to be disunited. It is also true that today's world events have made it all the more necessary to ensure that the armed forces and the government are seen to be on the same page.

Mr Gilani should realize that the military is primarily meant to defend the country, and he should be looking outward at the possibility of threats, not towards his primary tool to counter them. He should ensure that the armed forces are able to engage in their essential function while unencumbered by suspicion of their motives from their own civilian leadership. Mr Gilani is trying to combat the crisis by saying repeatedly there is none, or else saying that the American beliefs about the armed forces are correct. He would do better to let the matter go for now.