General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani took over the command of Pakistan's armed forces as the new chief of army staff in a ceremony in the northeastern military nerve center Rawalpindi Wednesday.
Kayani, 55, has been in military service since 1971 and enjoys the reputation of being a professional soldier and strictly apolitical. He is also reportedly known to be poker-faced, a man who can keep his cards close to his chest.
"Those who know General Kayani described him as a gentleman soldier," the local newspaper The News said Wednesday in a report on the new army chief.
The lieutenant general was named by President Pervez Musharraf for the post of vice chief of army staff, the No. 2 army post, on Oct. 2, 2007, which virtually made him General Musharraf's successor in the post of army chief.
The son of an army man, Kayani was born in the Punjabi district of Jhelum in 1952. He joined the army in 1971 and, like Musharraf, rose through the army ranks to become a general.
Kayani received military trainings at a military college and later at the Pakistan Military Academy and was commissioned second lieutenant.
Kayani's father died when Kayani was still a young soldier, so he had to support his family. He managed to educate his three brothers and three sisters. Kayani served as deputy military secretary in the late 1980s under the cabinet of the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
Kayani started heading the Inter Services Intelligence in 2004. As a man of principles, he reportedly declined to help a cousin who wanted to contest the election in Rawalpindi. The cousin later decided not to contest the election.
The reputation of being a gentleman was also supported by a recent instance, during which he remained silent when asked to voice his opinion on a deposed judge.
Kayani is married to the daughter of his maternal uncle. The couple have a son and a daughter.