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Jan 12, 2012 at 09:45am IST

Coup fears resurface as Pak Army, Govt rift widens

New Delhi: Pakistan Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has called an emergency meeting of top commanders on Thursday in the wake of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday sacking the defence secretary for 'gross misconduct'.

Hours after he fired the Defence Secretary over an affidavit row with the Army, Gilani on Wednesday said the top defence official had violated the rules of business and had to go.

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The Army appeared in a dangerous mood after Gilani accused the ISI of acting unconstitutionally. An Army statement said, "There can be no allegation more serious than what the honourable prime minister has levelled against COAS and DG ISI (Army chief and spy chief) and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the constitution of the country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the country."

The Opposition has taken the first move. "Opposition must withdraw support from the government," Nawaz Sharif said

The government called an urgent meeting of Parliament. Reports from Islamabad say the government may seek a vote of confidence perhaps hoping that given the widespread disillusionment with military rule, Zardari's government could emerge victorious.