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Pakistan's army assures commitment to democracy after row with government
May 10, 2017 / 2:39 PM / 3 months ago

Pakistan's army assures commitment to democracy after row with government

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's powerful military on Wednesday sought to calm worries of a rift with the civilian government, emphasising its commitment to democracy in a country where the army has often seized power.

The reassurance came after the military last month took the unusual step of publicly criticising the government's actions following investigations into a leaked newspaper story about a national security meeting.

On Wednesday, the military's spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor told a news briefing there was no cause for concern.

"We will continue to work with all government institutions to do what is best for the country," Ghafoor said.

"There's been a lot of talk about democracy in the past two weeks, but nowhere was there any mention that any actions should be taken against democracy."

Relations between the civilian government and military have often been strained in Pakistan, where several prime ministers, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself during a previous administration in 1999, have been ousted in coups.

The military has ruled Pakistan for 33 of the 70 years since the country gained independence from Britain in 1947.

The country has had a democratically elected government since 2008, but the army retains sweeping influence and any hint of discord raises worries among advocates of a strong civilian government.

The row came after an article in the English-language Dawn newspaper in October, detailing high-level security talks, angered the army.

Sharif fired a close ally at the time of the leak and last month sacked one of his senior advisers after an inquiry report was completed.

But a tweet from Ghafoor rejected Sharif's actions as "incomplete".

At the news conference on Wednesday, Ghafoor said the April 29 tweet was "not against any government official or institution", adding that the investigation into the leaks had come to a satisfactory conclusion.

Reporting by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Alison Williams

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