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Jan 11, 2012 at 06:23pm IST

Gilani sacks Def Secretary; Pak Army, govt rift widens

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday sacked Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, considered close to the army chief, marking an escalation in the row between the civilian

government and the military over the Memogate scandal.

The government terminated the contract of Lodhi with immediate effect for "gross misconduct and illegal action" said a statement issued by the Prime Minister's office.

Action was taken against Lodhi "for creating misunderstanding between the state institutions", the statement said.

Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi was given additional charge of the post of Defence Secretary, the statement said.

The government had recently served a show cause notice to Lodhi after he filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court that contended the civilian administration had no control over the operational matters of the army and Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

He further stated in the affidavit that the government had only limited administrative control of the army and ISI.

Lodhi's affidavit angered Prime Minister Gilani, who reacted by saying it was unacceptable for the army to act as a "state within a state".

Lodhi's sacking was announced shortly after the army reacted angrily to Gilani's remarks in an interview on Monday that the army and ISI chiefs had acted in an "unconstitutional and illegal" manner in the handling of the Memogate scandal.

Gilani contended that the army and ISI chiefs had submitted responses on the memo issue to the apex court without getting the government's approval.

(With additional inputs from PTI)