Kayani won`t be given extension in service: Pak Defence Min

Pak`s powerful Army Chief Gen Ashraf Parvez Kayani will not be given an extension after his tenure ends in Nov.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s powerful Army Chief
Gen Ashraf Parvez Kayani will not be given an extension after
his tenure ends in November, Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar has said, amidst speculation that the General may be upgraded to the post of Chief of Defence Staff.

Mukhtar, a senior leader of the ruling Pakistan
People`s Party and a close confidant of President Asif Ali,
told reporters in Lahore yesterday that the government would
not give Kayani an extension when he completed his tenure in
November this year.

Mukhtar also said Kayani had not sought an extension
from the government.

The Defence Minister`s comments were the first
categorical remarks from the PPP top brass on the issue of an
extension for Kayani a topic that has been the subject of
speculation in Islamabad`s political circles in recent weeks.

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

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

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 person".

Some security experts have suggested that Kayani, who
was handpicked by former President Pervez Musharraf to lead
the Pakistan Army when he quit as Army Chief in 2007, should
be given an extension for his role in distancing the army from
politics and in the campaigns against the Taliban in the
country`s northwest and volatile tribal belt.

Sources told PTI that the PPP-led government was
toying with the idea of creating the new post of Chief of
Defence Staff in order to give Kayani a key role in the
defence establishment after he retires as army chief.

Along with taking several steps to boost the morale of
the army, which was battered during Musharraf`s regime, Kayani withdrew army officers from civilian departments and barred them from interacting with politicians.

However, Kayani has remained a key behind-the-scenes
player, playing a decisive role in fashioning Pakistan`s
foreign policy and relation with the US and India.

Kayani chaired a meeting of key federal secretaries
ahead of the recent Pakistan-US strategic dialogue and Foreign
Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi consulted the army chief before contacting External Affairs Minister S M Krishna to discuss the resumption of India-Pakistan talks.

Kayani had earlier served as chief of the
Inter-Services Intelligence and Director General of Military
Operations during the India-Pakistan military standoff in

During a recent interaction with senior Pakistani
journalists, Kayani admitted that his force was "India-
centric" because New Delhi has unresolved issues with
Islamabad and there is a history of conflict between the two


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