Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today cancelled a scheduled meeting with Asif Ali Zardari after the former president criticised the armed forces for targeting his party.
Zardari in an uncharacteristic speech in Peshawar yesterday warned the army to avoid targeting his party in the southern Sindh province after chief of paramilitary Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar this month accused politicians of involvement in corruption in Karachi.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid said the Prime Minister was left with no option but to call off meeting with co-chairman of opposition Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Zardari.
"It's not wise to pass such statements when the military is tackling militancy and terrorism," Rashid said. He said the army was involved in anti-militant operations and it should be supported.
Anti-army remarks by Zadari, angered Sharif, who during a meeting, said criticism of the armed forces encourages destabilising factors in the country.
According to an official statement, he said it was not appropriate to criticise army in the prevailing circumstances.
"Coordination between the civilian and military leadership has strengthened democracy," Sharif said.
Zardari had accused army of launching "character assassination of his party."
Army has so far not reacted to Zardari's speech.