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:

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty hits record high above 8,600; state-run lenders gain  Full Article 

Indian in Iraq

Indian in Iraq

India says no contact with 39 men held by Islamic State in Iraq.  Full Article 

Sahara Issue

Sahara Issue

Sahara looks to raise $650 million loan to fund bail.  Full Article 

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal's toxic legacy lives on, 30 years after industrial disaster.  Full Article 

Essar Group

Essar Group

Exclusive - Essar's planned oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions  Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Fiscal Deficit

Fiscal Deficit

April-October fiscal deficit nears 90 pct of full-year target  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil hits new four-year low post OPEC as glut looms  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

India eases gold import rule in surprise move.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

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