`Decision on Kayani`s extension at appropriate time`

Pak Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani distanced himself from the Defence Minister`s "premature" remarks that the govt will not grant an extension to Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Updated: May 20, 2010, 19:53 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Premier Yousuf Raza
Gilani on Thursday distanced himself from the Defence Minister`s
"premature" remarks that the government will not grant an
extension to powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani,
saying a decision on it will be made at the appropriate time.

Gilani said Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar`s
comments were "premature, inopportune and uncalled for" and
that he should not have made such a statement.

The government had not made any decision on the issue of
granting an extension in service to 58-year-old Kayani, who
will complete his tenure in November this year, and a decision
will be made "when the time comes," he said during an
interaction with senior Pakistani journalists.

Mukhtar, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari, had
created a buzz in political circles when he told journalists
in Lahore over the weekend that the government would not grant
an extension to Kayani and that the General himself had not
sought an extension.

During recent interactions with the media, Prime Minister
Gilani has parried all questions about granting an extension
to Kayani.

Gilani has also dismissed reports about differences
between him and the presidency on this issue and repeatedly
said the government will make a decision on the matter "when
the time comes."

Gilani has often described Kayani who became army chief
when former military ruler Pervez Musharraf quit the post in
November 2007 as "pro-democracy and a highly professional

The Premier is also perceived as being closer to the
military establishment than Zardari, whose relations with the
army have not been very warm.

In recent months, Gilani witnessed several manoeuvres
being conducted by the military while Zardari, who is the
supreme commander of the armed forces, was conspicuous by his

Following the passage of a landmark Constitutional
reforms package, the power to appoint the three service chiefs
has been transferred from the President to the Prime Minister.

However, observers believe it is highly unlikely that
Gilani will be able to act on his own in such matters as
Zardari continues to be in complete control of the ruling
Pakistan People`s Party.

During today`s interaction with the journalists, Gilani
also expressed the hope that differences between the executive
and judiciary would soon be resolved.

All issues with the apex court will be amicably resolved
as there should be no confrontation among institutions, he

The differences between the executive and the judiciary
include the implementation of the Supreme Court`s order
annulling the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a graft
amnesty that benefited Zardari and thousands of others, and
the revival of graft cases against Interior Minister Rehman

Gilani said his government will follow the court`s orders
related to Malik but made it clear that the jailing of the
Interior Minister would not be appropriate for any

There are apprehensions that Malik could be jailed in
connection with graft cases that were recently reopened by
anti-corruption courts.