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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistan to remain US ally as army chief stays

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, July 24, IRNA -- Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s late Thursday night announcement to grant a three-year extension to the army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani means that Islamabad is to remain in the US-led coalition.

In a televised address, Gilani said that the armed forces were fighting militants and that continuation of the military leadership was a key to success in the campaign.

General Kayani, who succeeded General (Pervez) Musharraf as Pakistan's 14th army chief on November 29, 2007, was to be retired on November 2010. He would now stay till 2013.

The prime minister’s decision put an end to speculations whether or not General Kayani would get extension. Pakistani media have recently reported that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked Pakistan, in her recent two-day visit to Islamabad, to grant extension to General Kayani.

The US embassy denied the report.

The Americans needed Pakistan’s strong support to achieve their goals in Afghanistan and that is why they would be happy over the development.

US President (Barack) Obama has already set July 2011 to start withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and Washington wanted some tangible progress in 2010 in Afghanistan.

For the purpose they were in dire need of Islamabad’s cooperation to win the war in Afghanistan, which seemed very very difficult.

Deaths of foreign troops have increased in recent weeks and June was the deadliest and 60 American among 102 soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan.

General Kayani would be under tremendous pressure to take action against the Haqqani network after the US placed the network among the groups promoting terrorism.

A recent US Treasury Department notification has said “the Haqqani network operates out of North Waziristan, Pakistan and spearheading insurgent activity in Afghanistan.”

The decision has put Pakistan in trouble and the coming days are important for Pakistan to decide if it would act against the Haqqanis or would continue its old policy.

Prime Minister Gilani defended his decision even on Friday to grant extension to General Kayani.

There are strong basis for the government to take this decision. The Peoples Party government still has two-and-half years to complete its five-year term until March 2013. The government needs a loyal Commander and Kayani is the best for the rulers as there had been cordial relations between the two sides.

There is no change in the government policy about operations against the militants and Gilani said the campaign and if it is the case then Kayani would be the best choice.

The operation continues and experts said any change in the military leadership would be having negative impact on the offensive.

Army in Pakistan had always been playing a key role in making decisions and even it ruled the country over 30 years since the birth of Pakistan in 1947.

If we traced back the recent history of the Pakistani military intervention, we would find then army chief General Pervez Musharraf to dismiss Nawaz Sharif government in October 1999 after Sharif used his constitutional power to sack an army chief and appointed a new one.

Kayani has been confined only to professional matters and that is why the extension was granted to ensure continuation of democratic process. The government needed political stability as Pakistan is still facing insurgency.


End News / IRNA / News Code 1242378

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