Islamabad: The three-year extension in Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani’s tenure is only the second such incident in Pakistan’s history when a civilian regime has increased the services of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).
The first such extension was given by former president Iskandar Mirza to General Ayub Khan.
The three Army chiefs - Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf - had extended their own terms while holding the office of the President.
Meanwhile, none of the country’s major political parties have commented on Gilani government’s decision to grant extension to the Army Chief.
Senior leaders and party spokespersons of various factions of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) said that they would comment over the issue only after consulting their respective leaderships.
Defence analysts have backed the government’s decision, saying General Kayani was doing good and removing him from the post would adversely affect the fight against terrorism, which is at a crucial stage.
“You can’t change horses in mid-stream, particularly a commander when war is going on,” The Dawn quoted General (retired) Jamshed Ayaz, as saying.
General Ayaz said that Kayani has been leading from the front, which has resulted in great success against the militants.
He said that the incumbent Army chief is doing his job well, as he tactfully dealing with the United States, Afghanistan and the NATO simultaneously.
Another defence analyst, Talat Masood, termed the extension as a “wise decision” considering the prevailing situation in the country.
“General Kayani has raised the professional capabilities of the Army and improved the image of the armed forces in the country and abroad,” Masood said.
However, former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hamid Gul has voiced his dissent, and said that it would have been better for General Kayani to refuse the extension.