Pakistan’s prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told members of parliament yesterday that they faced a choice between “democracy and dictatorship” in a standoff with the armed forces.
Tensions soared in recent days over a memo sent to Washington, raising fears that the army might stage a coup or support possible moves by the Supreme Court to oust the government.
Opposition parties also have spoken out against any military takeover, but they would likely support early elections as a way out of the crisis.
Mr Gilani hinted the government was considering early polls, saying “we will go to the masses if the situation worsens”.
Yesterday two officials – one in Britain and one in Pakistan – said Mr Gilani had expressed fears to British diplomats that the army might be about to stage a coup. However, the British Foreign Office and Mr Gilani’s office denied this.
Mr Gilani also asked High Commissioner Adam Thomson for Britain to support his embattled government, according to the unnamed officials.