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Millennium Post

General to leave his labyrinth

Pakistan is faced with a major choice in the days ahead: that of picking a worthy successor to General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who announced that he would retire on 29 November when his extended tenure as chief of Army staff ends. Evidently, Kayani’s time as the COAS has been neck-deep in controversy, especially in the build-up to the 2013 general elections that took place on 11 May. While Kayani had tried hard to reinterpret the Army’s role and legacy in the beleaguered country, particularly after former President Pervez Mushrraf’s misadventure with the Kargil incursion of 1999, whether he had been even partially successful in his endeavour is a matter of interpretation. Naturally, from the perspective of India, which has been facing the brunt of Pakistani army and government’s lack of control over their rogue military and militant fringes as well as self-proclaimed jihadist organisations, Kayani’s stint as COAS has been ridden with huge pockmarks, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks of 2008, the terror blasts of 2011 and the unimaginably escalated tensions along the LoC in the current year. Although, the army and the former ruling regime in Pakistan, the Pakistan People’s Party, had drifted apart, with the army openly alleging that the late Benazir Bhutto’s party had become an American stooge, that hadn’t stopped the Army and its intelligence agency, the ISI, from hobnobbing with the likes of Lashkar-e-Taeba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Pakistan Tehreek-e Taliban.

But the biggest blow to the Pak Army under General Kayani had been the hunting down of Osama Bin laden in the army garrison town of Abbottabad, right under their noses. However, the fact that Pak army allowed the general elections to happen in May 2013, even though it had been one of the most violent in recent history, and that a civilian government paved away to another by means of the ballot box and not a military coup, says that indeed Kayani played a key role in exercising restraint. Nevertheless, given the incursions and infiltrations along the LoC reaching a crescendo of late, how Kayani and Nawaz Sharif would achieve a balancing act is the moot point now.
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