Pakistan's army chief warns judges not to undermine military

ISLAMABAD Mon Nov 5, 2012 9:10pm IST

Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks to the media in Skardu, northen Pakistan after visiting the site of an avalanche in Gayari camp near the Siachen glacier April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood/Files

Pakistan's Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani speaks to the media in Skardu, northen Pakistan after visiting the site of an avalanche in Gayari camp near the Siachen glacier April 18, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood/Files

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's army chief warned on Monday, in a veiled challenge to the Supreme Court, that any efforts to undermine the military and "draw a wedge" between it and its citizens would not be tolerated.

Chief Supreme Court Judge Iftikhar Chaudhry ruled last month that the military must stop interfering in politics, a rare challenge to Pakistan's powerful generals.

The ruling has stoked tensions between the court and the military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 65-year history through coups or from behind the scenes.

"Any effort which wittingly or unwittingly draws a wedge between the people and Armed Forces of Pakistan undermines the larger national interest," said General Ashfaq Kayani, in a rare public statement that did not specifically mention the court or its judges.

An army official, who wished not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, confirmed that Kayani was responding in part to the Supreme Court judgment.

The October court ruling came in connection with a case dating back to 1996 in which a retired air marshal filed a petition against the army for sponsoring a political alliance.

The Supreme Court has asked the federal government to take necessary steps under the constitution against retired generals named in the case. However, Pakistan's government has little sway over generals in the military, which is one of the biggest in the world.

"While individual mistakes might have been made by all of us in the country, these should be left to the due process of law," Kayani said.

"Let us not pre-judge anyone, be it civilian or a military person, and extend it, unnecessarily, to undermine respective institutions."

The long-running standoff between the judiciary and the U.S.-backed government has fuelled instability in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed country with a fragile economy that has been battered by a Taliban insurgency.

In the late 1980s, Pakistan's military Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) was accused of establishing a political cell that worked with the presidency to distribute money to selected politicians in a bid to get them elected.

(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

FILED UNDER:

Politics

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Exit Polls

Exit Polls

BJP unlikely to form Jammu & Kashmir govt - polls.  Full Article 

Forceful Conversions

Forceful Conversions

BJP distances itself from religious conversions.  Full Article 

Photo

Fund Raising

Flipkart raises $700 million in fresh funding.   Full Article 

Reforms Push

Reforms Push

Modi may order insurance, coal reforms if vote delayed - officials.  Full Article 

Economic Pulse

Economic Pulse

Crank up public spending to revive growth - chief economic adviser.  Full Article 

Reuters Exclusive

Reuters Exclusive

India looks to sway Americans with nuclear power insurance plan  Full Article 

Down Under

Down Under

Magic Johnson inspires Australia to second test win.  Full Article 

Going International

Going International

Bollywood’s Priyanka Chopra sets sights on American TV.  Full Article 

India This Week

India This Week

Some of our best photos from this week.   Full Coverage 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device   Full Coverage