ISLAMABAD: "Trigger-happy hawks" should not be allowed to take control of a situation that is already spinning out of control in Pakistan, a daily said Thursday, a day after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked the defence secretary and the military warned of serious ramifications.
"No trigger-happy hawks should be allowed to take control of the situation that is already spinning out of control," an editorial in The News said, hoping that sanity will prevail.
Stating that the situation is now coming to a decisive point, it said: "The fears are that the cornered and beleaguered president and prime minister may shoot the wrong target and precipitate a military takeover."
Gilani asserted his authority by dismissing Naeem Khalid Lodhi, a retired lieutenant general widely seen to be close to army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi was asked to take charge of the post.
"The gridlock has gone grave and major institutions are locked in what appears to be the final round, almost in a hand-to-hand combat," the editorial said.
"The government, the army, the Supreme Court, parliament and the political parties are making last-minute moves - there are postings, transfers, sackings and shuffling of the ranks for a showdown - if it is forced and if sanity does not prevail. The major players - the president, the prime minister, the army chief and the chief justice - have stated their positions publicly and forcefully."
Gilani has accused the army chief and the ISI chief, General Shuja Pasha, of violating the constitution by submitting illegal replies to the Supreme Court in the case over a memo sent to Washington that said President Asif Ali Zardari had feared a military take over following last year's killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
The editorial went on to say that "the timing of the PM's statement only shows that it is the latest move in the government's politics of confrontation".
"But to what end, if not to force the army and the judiciary to take some action against the government so that the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party) could claim political martyrdom," the daily asked.
It noted: "This may be a clever strategy - as otherwise its performance in the last four years has been so dismal that it cannot face the people and its political opponents on the basis of its track record."