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Kayani asks Zardari to axe corrupt ministers

Islamabad, Oct. 3: Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has asked President Asif Ali Zardari — who is also the co-Chairman of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — to remove several ministers from the Cabinet, a media report said.

The General has already got his own man appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and has been frequently meeting President Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani in the recent weeks.

General Kayani, a report in the British the Guardian newspaper said has handed a list of “corrupt ministers” to the President recommending their removal.

Quoting Western and Pakistani officials, the paper reported that the tension between Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders is the latest political fallout from historic floods that have triggered stringent criticism of the government’s handling of the crisis.

“Much of the controversy centres on (President) Zardari, who brought scorn on himself by visiting a family chateau in France as the floods gathered pace in August — a move advisers admit was a public relations disaster,” says the report.

According to the daily, senior Western officials confirmed reports that the Army Chief had asked the President to remove named loyalists from his 60-member Cabinet as part of an internal reform process. The official did not give the requested names.

Analysts said that the Army’s stance reflected a broader public impatience with the government’s performance.

An opinion poll taken in July 2009 gave Mr Zardari a 20 per cent popularity rating. The way things are configured now, everyone — the Army, the institutions, the man on the street — would like to see some kind of shake-up in the current government,” said Cyril Almeida.

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