Tensions grow in Pakistan

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Tribal representatives above raise their hands to condemn American drone strikes along the Afghanistan border in Mir Ali, a border town of North Waziristan in Pakistan.

An American missile strike killed four alleged foreign militants in North Waziristan yesterday as tensions grew in Pakistan between the army and the civilian government.

Yesterday, the prime minister fired the defence secretary widening a destabilising rift in a country where the military has enormous political influence and has regularly overthrown democrat governments it has fallen out with.

Relations between President Asif Ali Zardari and the generals have never been good, but have soured dramatically in recent months.

Pakistan’s nuclear-armed military has ruled Pakistan for much of its six-decade existence. Its officer corps is suspected of sympathising with Islamic extremists and no civilian government has ever completed its term in office.

President Zardari has left Pakistan for Dubai to attend a wedding, and officials deny that the trip was connected to the current crisis.

Last month, Mr Zardari went to Dubai for medical treatment, triggering speculation the leader was fleeing the country.