Islamabad: Hours after he fired the Defence Secretary over an affidavit row with the Army, Pakistan's beleaguered Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said the top defence official had violated rules of business and had to go.
Earlier in the day, Gilani dismissed Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, a move that came minutes after the military issued a terse statement responding to Gilani's comments that the Army and ISI chief had acted in an "unconstitutional" manner in filing affidavits on the memo issue without obtaining the Government's prior permission.
As confrontation loomed between the government and the Army, Gilani defended Lodhi's sacking, telling reporters that it was done only after hearing the other side.
Gilani also rejected murmurs of any threat to democracy, saying it was now Pakistan's "destiny".
"The Senate elections will be held on time, democracy will stay in Pakistan, democracy in Pakistan's destiny now and all institutions will function under the government," he said.
Gilani also said his government had nothing against "anybody".
"We had conducted an inquiry and the Ministry (of Defence) took responses in writing, then we sent them to the Law and Justice Ministry, and after receiving their comments, we were left with no choice (but to dismiss the Defence Secretary) because he did not follow the rules of business," Gilani said
as reporters bombarded him with questions.