Pakistan Army commanders have developed a consensus that their chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, should remain in his post till the war on terror takes a decisive turn and the military's achievements can be consolidated, according to a media report on Monday. The army's top brass came to the conclusion during the Corps Commanders and Formation Commanders' conference that concluded last week, The News daily reported.
Kayani is set to retire on November 28 this year and political circles have been abuzz with speculation on whether the Pakistan People's Party-led government will grant him an extension. However, Kayani "did not hint about his interest in staying in the office after completion of his tenure", the report said.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani recently said his government will make a decision when the time comes. General Tariq Majid, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee who is set to retire on October 7, is also "supportive" of Kayani continuing as the army chief until "the ongoing war (on terror) reaches a final stage".
The army's senior commanders appreciated the role played by Kayani in enhancing the "image of the armed forces ever since he assumed the office about 29 months ago". They also appreciated the successes in the war against terrorists in a short span of time. The daily quoted its sources as saying that the government is "working out a strategy to institutionalise the arrangement to provide the much-needed" extension for Kayani.
The sources said Prime Minister Gilani had not made up his mind about granting an extension to Kayani but "he is not averse to the idea as he disapproved of a statement made by his defence minister on the subject". Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar had said the government was not planning to grant an extension to Kayani and that the general had not sought one.
Seven lieutenant generals are set to retire during the last six months of this year, including five who will step down in October. They are Syed Absar Hussain, Muhammad Asghar, Shahid Iqbal, Zahid Hussain Khan and Muhammad Mustafa Khan, Shahid Niaz and Muhammad Yusuf. The daily quoted its sources as saying that Kayani might retain two lieutenant generals who have been assigned important responsibilities in the war on terror.