AFPAK: Pakistan’s Army Chief Stepping Down

October 9, 2013 at 8:03 pm Leave a comment

Kayani Leaving Nov. 29

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s Army chief, has announced he is retiring next month, leaving politicians, analysts and journalists wondering who will replace him in the crucial job he has held for six years.

Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani addresses the troops near Hyderabad. (Photo courtesy Inter Services Public Affairs)

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani addresses the troops near Hyderabad.
(Photo courtesy Inter Services Public Relations)

According to Dawn, one of Pakistan’s major newspapers, a brief announcement from the Inter Services Public Relations office on Sunday (October 6) stated that the 61-year-old general will step down when his tenure as Army chief ends on November 29.

The announcement ends speculation that Kayani, who already had his command extended for a second term, might seek to stay on longer or m,move to a new position in which he would have oversight of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, according to the New York Times.

For quite sometime, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumours and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I am grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history. However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence,” Kayani said in the announcement.

“It is noteworthy that the announcement came from the COAS [Chief of Army Staff] himself and not the government,” Dawn noted, adding that there had also been speculation the government was keeping vacant the post of ambassador to the United States because it wanted Kayani to fill the post, but his aides said Kayani “will not accept any office.”

Kayani’s decision to step aside was no small thing in a country that has seen four military coups in its 66-year history. In fact, Britain’s Financial Times noted, earlier this year Pakistan saw for the first time in its history a peaceful transition from one elected government to another. The current prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, was ousted by a previous Army chief, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, in 1999.

Before replacing Musharraf as Army chief in 2007, Kayani headed the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, Pakistan’s military spy agency, which has been criticized for allegedly supporting Taliban militants in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But Kayani led a successful military operation against the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and less decisive campaigns in other parts of the tribal belt along the Northwest Frontier with Afghanistan.

Map: CIA World Factbook

Map: CIA World Factbook

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Entry filed under: Afghanistan, Counter Insurgency, Counter Terrorism, National Security and Defense, News Developments, Pakistan. Tags: , , , , , , .

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