Pakistan extends army chief term for US-backed offensives

Under US pressure, General Ashfaq Kayani has launched major offensives against local fighters in the northwestern border regions opposing Afghanistan invasion over the past year.

Pakistan extends army chief term for US-backed offensives

Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Thursday extended the term of country's powerful army chief by three years in order to ensure continuity in US-backed offensives.

Under US pressure, General Ashfaq Kayani has launched major offensives against local fighters in the northwestern border regions opposing Afghanistan invasion over the past year.

Kayani was due to retire in November after the completion of his three-year term in office.

Gilani said he extended Kayani's term in recognition of his services in the fight against militants.

"In the best interest of the country, I as prime minister have decided to extend the term of General Kayani by three years from November 29," Gilani said in a televised address.

"We are confident that under the leadership of General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani the war against terrorism will be taken to its conclusion."

Kayani, a former head of the country's premier Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, was appointed army chief in November 2007 by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

In March, Gilani also gave an extension of one year in office to Kayani's close confidante, Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha, as head of ISI.

Gilani said military operations under the command of Kayani had "entered a very important phase".

He added that Kayani personally supervised and planned all offensives.

Gilani said that successful military operation in northwestern regions Swat and Malakand and the tribal region of South Waziristan had only been possible under the dynamic leadership of Kayani.

Washington sees the Pakistani regions "the most dangerous place" on Earth.

"It is important to maintain continuity in the military leadership to ensure success of these operations," he added.

"Kayani is the first army chief in the history of Pakistan who is getting an extension from a civilian government. It's an extraordinary decision in an extraordinary situation," security analyst and a retired army brigadier, Mehmood Shah, said.

The 58-year-old Kayani is viewed by many as the most powerful man in the country.

He also played a behind-the-scenes role to help the civilian government avert possible political unrest in 2009 triggered by opposition protests for the restoration of judges ousted by Musharraf.

Gilani praised Kayani for his support for "civilian rule" in the country.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 23 Temmuz 2010, 11:41

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