Pakistani gov't's decision to extend army chief tenure positively received

16:46, July 23, 2010      

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The decision made by the Pakistani government to extend the tenure of its army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for another three years has received a positive response in the country.

Shortly after the announcement of the decision by the Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in a televised address late Thursday night, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Raja Zafar-ul-Haq reportedly hailed the extension as "a very important decision".

PML-N is the largest opposition party in Pakistan. The quick and positive response made by the party's leader indicated that the decision made by the PPP-led government is acceptable to PML-N, said a local analyst.

APP, a state-run news agency in Pakistan, quoted a retired general of the Pakistani army Talat Masood as saying that the three-year tenure extension given by the government to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Kayani is "a right decision".

The retired general said the decision is correct and no doubt is in the larger national interest. He said being an army chief General Kayani has won respect for the country's armed forces which is at the forefront in the ongoing war against terrorism.

Under Kayani's command the Pakistan Army has led successful operations in Swat, Malakand and different tribal agencies, he said, adding that the extension of General Kayani's tenure would help ensure continuity in the military operations against extremists.

Local watchers believed that the tenure extension of the Pakistan 's army chief is also conducive to the consolidation of the position of the PPP-led government in the country as Kayani once served as Assistant Military Secretary with the government led by the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated wife of the current president Zardari.

"Interestingly, the extended term of the army chief will expire at about the time when the term of the present PPP-led government will come to an end," said a local watcher, adding this will definitely help the president Zardari.

General Kayani has always tried to help strengthen democracy and democratic forces in the country, said the retired General Talat Masood in an interview with a local TV channel.

The decision made by the Pakistani government to extend the tenure of the 55-year-old army chief who is supposed to retire on Nov. 29, 2010, is within the expectations among many local people.

Prior to the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's two-day visit to Pakistan between July 18-19, there were reports among the local media speculating the tenure of the army chief will be extended due to the support and lobby of the United Sates.

General Kayani is also said to be well acquainted with General Petraeus, the newly-appointed commander of the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. The extension of Kayani's tenure is believed to be helpful for a better coordination between the NATO forces and the Pakistani army in the war against terrorism, especially in the fight against the militants hiding in the Pakistani-Afghan border areas.

Thursday night the Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani, in an urgent televised address to the nation, announced the extension decision, saying the decision "is made in the interest of the nation" as the military operation against the terrorists is in a critical stage and the continuity of the policy as well as the military leadership under this situation is needed.

The prime minister also said that the decision is made after thorough consultation with the President Zardari.

General Kayani is the 14th army chief in Pakistan. He took over the office as COAS after the Pakistani former President Musharraf' s retirement from this office on Nov. 28,2007.

Source: Xinhua


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