Will they or won't they? It looks like the Pakistan Army and ISI can't quite make up their minds whether or not to overthrow the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Yesterday prime minister Yusuf Raza Gilani sacked the defence secretary - a civil servant - for "gross misconduct and illegal action" and replaced him with a bureaucrat closer to the PPP.
The sacked secretary, army loyalist Retired Lt. Gen. Naeem Khalid Lodhi, is said to have forwarded documents to the Supreme Court on behalf of army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and ISI chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha. These concerned the so-called Memogate scandal in which Gilani is alleged to have sent a memo that requested support from the Americans against a possible coup attempt by the Pakistan military.
Lodhi has been replaced by Cabinet Secretary Narghis Sethi, the first woman to hold such an appointment, which is usually given to a retired military figure.
The statements submitted to the court by the generals argued that the memo in question was part of a conspiracy against the Army.
Gilani added to the pressure on the Army by giving an interview to a Chinese newspaper which said that Kayani and Pasha had violated the constitution by sending documents directly to the court, without going via the government. This in turn provoked a furious reaction from the General Staff who issued a statement saying that Gilani's allegation was "very serious". It didn't help that Kayani was on an official visit to China when Gilani gave his interview.
The Army statement went on to say: "There can be no allegation more serious than what the Honourable Prime Minister has leveled against COAS and DG ISI and has unfortunately charged the officers for violation of the Constitution of the Country. This has very serious ramifications with potentially grievous consequences for the Country."
As if things were not bad enough, the Supreme Court has also threatened to dismiss Gilani's government if he refuses to open a corruption case against President Zardari by next Monday.
The future of the government is clearly hanging by a thread, with both the Army and the Supreme Court unsure that a coup would be popular. However, nothing can be ruled out.
If a coup does take place, what's the odds that Imran Khan will be called on to give the generals a human face?