Kayani's staying power?

I don’t get it. Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani gets a three-year extension and it becomes a major talking point. Why?

I also don’t get it when the Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani calls it "an administrative affair to which the government did not feel necessary to hold consultations with political parties".

Is Pakistan so democratic that it is not just the ruling party but the opposition that has to be consulted? In India many people don’t even know who the army chief is and political parties do not sit and confabulate over such appointments.

Pakistani newspapers are going all ballistic about how good it will be and how bad. We must remember that currently there is no army rule, so this undue attention to an extended tenure undermines the democratic process itself. And let us not go by reports that state this is the second time a civilian government has extended the services of the Chief of Army Staff; the others just gave themselves more time.

If Nawaz Sharif was in London and could not be taken into confidence, it only reveals that the political parties have their own favourites and it is jugglery at the political level. In Pakistan the army is covertly a wing of the civilian government.

The Hindustan Times starts its report by stating that “Many quarters have breathed a sigh of relief” over the announcement:

Military analyst Aisha Siddiqa, author of the book Military Inc, says that the decision to extend the term depended upon three factors — an agreement within the General Headquarters, a nod from the US and support of the political government.

I mean, is this like something unexpected? Has it not always been like this, except when there is a military coup?

Analysts say that while Kayani may be the best option, he may still not be the apolitical army chief that the political leadership hopes for.

There is nothing like apolitical army chief in Pakistan.

The Telegraph, UK, also decided to give some importance to “Gen Kayani, a chain-smoking golfer, (who) has won plaudits for staying out of the political arena.”

Obviously the West sees it differently. Or it knows the truth (his popularity with the US and NATO troops) and wants to look with wide-eyed wonder and concentrate on his chain-smoking and golfing. However, it did make the rather strange assertion:

His position, in charge of the country's military establishment, means he is often regarded as the most powerful man in the country and he has been at the helm of developing policy on India and Afghanistan.

Is one to assume that policy is only about warfare? I think this is obfuscation because if the West pulls the strings, especially in Pakistan’s war against terror, then he is not the most powerful man in Pakistan but the most amenable puppet.

After all this, I still don’t get it. If instead of retiring in November, he stays on till 2013, how will anything change? Pakistan would have an army chief, anyway. That man would do similar things because there is no choice. So, why is everyone talking so much about it? It’s not like he plays baseball.


  1. Haha ... Kayani's staying power? Hmmm ... someone could make something of the 'Extension' he achieved as well! You know those pharmacy junk mails ....

  2. :)Thanks for taking this subject forward. I was left laughing at my own smarties.

  3. Farzana,
    Kayani or no Kayani - the bigger story is Afghanistan. U.S. and its allies might be planning to outsource the Afghan war to Pak Military. India appears un-comfortable with its growing clout. Somehow I have a rather bad feeling about this going to un-fold nastily for both the countries.

  4. Mahesh:

    Whatever be the US plans, the fact is the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban are not the same. The Pakistani army works within the parameters of dealing with what they get out of it inside their own country.

    As regards clout, the army there has always had clout. India has to worry about the increase in insurgency within its border areas.


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