ISLAMABAD - Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Dec. 24 welcomed a statement by army chief Gen. Ashfaq Kayani ruling out a military takeover in the country.
Tensions between the army and government appeared to have soared in recent days over a secret memo that allegedly sought U.S. intervention to prevent a feared coup.
"He (Kayani) strongly dispelled the speculations of any military takeover and said that these are misleading and are being used as a bogey to divert the focus from real issues," aDec. 23 military statementcited Kayani as saying.
This statement "is extremely well taken by democratic circles in the country", Gilani said Dec. 24 during a televised interaction with the local media in Islamabad.
The military has carried out three coups in Pakistan and is considered the chief arbiter of power in the country of 174 million.
Kayani's statement came after Pakistan's top judge also ruled out the possibility of a coup as he examined calls from the army and the opposition to probe the memo scandal.
On Dec. 22, Gilani delivered an unprecedented tirade against the military and accused "conspirators" - whom he did not name - of plotting to bring down his government.
But Kayani dismissed those concerns, saying that the army "will continue to support the democratic process in the country".
The leaked memo allegedly sought U.S. intervention to prevent a feared military coup in exchange for overhauling Pakistan's security leadership after U.S. troops killed Osama bin Laden near the Pakistani capital on May 2.
The existence of the document came to light when American-Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz wrote in the Financial Times that President Asif Ali Zardari feared the military might overthrow his government.
Ijaz accused Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to Washington and a close Zardari aide, of crafting the memo with the president's support.
Haqqani flatly denies the accusations but was forced to resign as ambassador last month.