Friday, July 23, 2010

Extension of COAS, General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiani

In a surprise move, to compel the rumors of “ Abdul Waheed Kaker Formula”, Prime Minister of Pakistan, Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani, during a short address to the nation, announced three years extension to the Chief of the Army Staff , General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kiani, with effect from 20th Nov 2010. Earlier, the capital, Islamabad was in a grip of rumors due to the calculated leakage of subject information to the vibrant media.

General Kiani was the second Army Chief, after General Ayub Khan, to whom a civilian government reposed her confidence, though General Ayub was the principal protagonist of introducing worst kind of dictatorship in the country by imposing Martial law , which proved to damage the very fabric of the federation and became the ultimate cause of break-up of Pakistan in 1971.

The extension of General Kiani, will have the far-reaching , national and international , implications , as he is supposed to continue the present military policy in combating the terrorism and extremism in country and bordering areas; while , in the eyes of USA and NATO, he assumed a robust role in providing any ‘safe exit’ to the evidently defeating ‘foreign forces’ in Afghanistan.

In the recent past, reportedly, Gen Kayani was not convinced by US pressures, or at least he demonstrated diplomatic constraints, though militarily, to hold massive operation in North Waziristan, which has extensive possible internal connotations. Meanwhile, Pakistani government felt embarrassed by the statement of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’, who adopted a threatening stance by maintaining, that, “ if Pakistan-based militants succeeded in bombing the United States, it would have “very, very severe” consequences for Islamabad”. The sustainability of US pressures and threats was masterly defused or lessened by the government of Pakistan, as strategized by GHQ. The unceremonious removal of General McChrystal from the command, being critic of President Obama and his colleagues posed a severe damage to the US policy and ongoing ‘ War against Terror’ in Afghanistan, The damage is not only a matter of disobedience to Civil lawful command, but also it orchestrates growing frustration in the top US military brass, combating ‘terrorists’ in Afghanistan. During the recent visit to Islamabad, Hillary Clinton expected the extension of the COAS, as she felt comfortable with him and desired a better working relationship of General Kiani with new Commander David Petraeus, in Afghanistan.

On 1st Feb, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, in a rare press briefing, said that the success of military operations in the tribal regions have caused substantial decline in cross-border attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan and warned that it was essential to address Pakistan’s long-term strategic concerns for stability in the region. General Kayani said it would be a cause of worry for Pakistan if Afghanistan’s projected army developed the potential to take on Pakistan. “We want a strategic depth in Afghanistan but do not want to control it,” the general said while talking to a group of journalists at the Army General Headquarters. “A peaceful and friendly Afghanistan can provide Pakistan a strategic depth.” He asked the US and NATO to come out with a clear strategy on Afghanistan.

General Kayani participated in NATO commanders’ conference in Brussels (Jan 2010) maintained Pakistan was prepared to train the Afghan National Army which would help improve relations between the two nations. He hoped ‘the offer’ would get a positive response. “If we get more involved with the ANA (Afghan National Army) there’s more interaction and better understanding,” General Kayani said. “We have opened all doors ... It’s a win-win for Afghanistan, the United States, Isaf and Pakistan,” he said, referring to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Keeping in view ‘the visionary strategist’ of General Kiani , especially on future of Afghanistan, as US and NATO generals personified , US authorities feel that the services of General Kiani is still required to combat the terrorism, formation of future Afghan set-up even by ‘ sudden withdrawal of foreign troops, though US ‘ repeated demands of Do More’ will continue unabated, including arrest of , now fictional characters, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omer , who are supposedly present in Pakistani bordering areas.

Indian Media is not convinced with the high profile vibrant role of General Kiani in tackling the Afghan Issue, prompted it to make General Kiani as controversial figure. Sumit Ganguly in his article General Kayani – A Musharaf in the Making?, illustrates, “Given this infelicitous past, General Kayani’s increasing assertiveness is entirely unsurprising. In the wake of the London conference which gave Pakistan a disproportionate role in shaping Afghanistan’s future, the Pakistani military apparatus believes that it enjoys the imprimatur of the international community to play a more overt role in shaping Pakistan’s critical foreign and security policy choices. Quite frankly, all that has really changed is that it no longer feels it must quietly manipulate its civilian marionettes from the shadows. Now General Kayani and his associates can stand tall and determine the moves of their pliant charges with the skill of master ventriloquists and puppeteers.” The similar behavior of certain faction of Indian Media will remain intact against General Kiani in the coming years of his extended tenure.

Earlier, Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, extended the tenure of the corps commander, Peshawar, has now granted a one-year extension to another lieutenant general, as the DG ISI is the third in a row who is likely to be its recipient, all in a space of six months. The primary focus of these extensions are more or less , stitched to Military operations against the terrorism . The extension in lieutenant general’s service was made the prerogative of the Army chief during Gen Zia-ul-Haq’s time when he was COAS-president.

Coming to the national political scenario, the extension of any COAS is not considered as a well-admired act in a democratic set-up, at least in the normal circumstances. There will be certain political parties or factions, who will disapprove his extension on this pretext.Unfortunately, the present federal and provincial governments have miserably failed to confront the both national and international issues as per the aspirations of the common masses . There were at least two major occasions when COAS was forced to intervene directly , one, during the charged Long March for the restoration of the Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary and secondly , Kerry Lugar Bill controversy. In both occasions , GHQ kept restraint in meddling into the affairs of the government for unlimited time. There were also rumors, that President Musharaf also suggested President Zardari , through a back door channel , to remove General Kiani , when the Co-Chairman of PPPP, felt threatened during Long March. The rumours about the ‘ adoption of the ‘Abdul Waheed Kakar formula’ was first surfaced, during Long March impasse in 2009. The similar strong rumours, are, again resurfaced in the present days, when federal government is rapidly losing the confidence of the common masses due to massive corruption allegations in various ministries and divisions, besides failing to comply with the directives of Supreme Court on reopening of NRO cases and interaction with Swiss Government in this regard. The then COAS, General Abdul Waheed Kaker ‘resolved’ the political grinding standstill , when Ghulam Ishaq Khan , the then President of Pakistan, refused to accept Mian Nawaz Sharif as the PM , when the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Naseem Hassan Shah, ordered to restore the sacked PM Nawaz Sharif. General Kaker intervened and Nawaz Sharif convinced General Kaker that he would tender his resignation, only if GIK would also be sent home, so the formula materialized and new elections were conducted under the aegis of the caretaker PM. Moeen Qureshi.

It is interesting to note, that both COAS General Kiani and present Chief Justice of Supreme Court , Mr Justice Iftikhar Chaudhary will conduct the Next General Election in 2013, if the present democratic set-up remained intact till that time. In the meanwhile, both government and opposition public representatives received a severe set-up on fake degrees issue. The credibility of assemblies, filled with fake degree holders, aversely shaken which is being ridiculed by foreign media too. Though, the federal government has, apparently, tamed Chairman HEC, Javed Leghari, but fake degrees issue is not a finished story. PML-N and other political parties in opposition will sacrifice their elected legislators for the sake of exercising pressure on the federal government.

Political pandits in Islamabad believe , that , PPPP government is facing a threat of No Confidence Motion against PM Gillani , if Election Commission or Apex Court, declares fake-degree holders as ‘disqualified’ for the parliament. PM Gillani, at the moment, as visualized by some analysts, is marginally short of simple majority votes in the National Assembly . In the given circumstances, PM has to look towards , either PML-N or PML-Q, to get expected ‘No Confidence Motion’, in his favor . The question of the time is, “In resolving the present political perplexity and its future outcome, how present government tackles the political issues at her own or again force GHQ to intervene’?.

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