15 Jan 2012

Pakistani PM lauds armed forces

6:51 am on 15 January 2012

Amid a deepening crisis with the military, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of Pakistan says his government fully supports the armed forces.

Mr Gilani spoke after a meeting of the cabinet's defence committee in the capital Islamabad on Saturday.

Last month Mr Gilani said conspirators were plotting to bring down his government, without specifically blaming the military.

The government faces a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday.

"Our government and parliament, and above all our patriotic people, have stood fully behind our brave armed forces and security personnel," Mr Gilani said.

"It has been my government's policy to allow and enable all state institutions to play their role in their respective domains," he added.

He described the armed forces as "a pillar of the nation's resilience and strength".

Earlier, Mr Gilani held talks with army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

The BBC reports it was their first meeting since tensions erupted in public earlier this week.

Pakistan has been through three military coups since independence in 1947.

The latest rift began with an anonymous memo seeking US help to avert a possible military coup following the killing by US forces of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden last May.

General Kayani has dismissed rumours of a coup and correspondents say another is unlikely, despite the current tensions.

President Asif Ali Zardari also met General Kayani in a bid to mend relations between the military and the government.