Sacked Pakistan's ex-Defence Secretary challenges Gilani

Sacked Pakistan's ex-Defence Secretary challenges Gilani

Former Pakistan Defence Secretary today claimed that he was dismissed after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani realised he had made a "big mistake" by describing the army chief's handling of the memo scandal as unconstitutional.

Gilani sacked Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, who is considered to be very close to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on Wednesday, accusing him of "gross misconduct and illegal action" in submitting an affidavit to the Supreme Court on the alleged memo that had sought US help to stave off a possible coup in Pakistan after the killing of Osama bin Laden last year.

The premier further said Lodhi's actions had created misunderstanding between the government and the army.

Lodhi told the media today that the allegations of misconduct and creating misunderstanding levelled against him were "not sustainable and cannot be proved".

He contended that Gilani had sacked him after the premier realised he had made a "big mistake" by saying that the army chief had acted in an unconstitutional manner in his handling of the memo issue.

Lodhi claimed another reason for his sacking was his refusal to sign an affidavit that the government wanted to submit to the apex court.

This affidavit had stated that the memo was a "piece of paper" and the case in the Supreme Court was not tenable, he said.

Lodhi earned Gilani's ire by submitting an affidavit in the apex court that said the army and Inter-Services Intelligence were not under the operational control of civilian authorities.

Gilani has said Lodhi was sacked after an inquiry established that he had submitted the affidavit without getting the Defence Minister's approval.

But Lodhi told the media: "The Prime Minister did not give me a reason for my sacking. The Defence Minister was not present (in Islamabad) when I submitted the affidavit, otherwise I would have shown it to him.

"The Defence Minister had sought an explanation and I told him that I regularly respond to orders from the Supreme Court and High Court. I never ask the Law Division about these replies, I only ask when I don't understand the law," he said

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