An extension in the tenure of Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is good news for the Obama administration, a US-based private sector intelligence group said here.
According to Stratfor, Gen Kayani has played a leading role in efforts to improve the political and security situation within Pakistan as well as bilateral relations with the US, especially in the context of Afghanistan.
According to a report by the organisation, the shift in the Pakistani attitude toward taking an aggressive stance against militants within its borders is a very nascent development. Stratfor says that the fight against militants requires continuity of leadership, especially when it is not clear that a new army chief would necessarily pursue the current policy with the same vigour. “This is one of those situations where individuals – at least in the short term – do matter in geopolitics,” the report says.
Meanwhile, the US has refrained from making any comment on the three-year extension of the army chief’s tenure, saying it is an internal matter. “It was a matter for, and a decision by, the civilian government of Pakistan,” State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley said at his daily news briefing. Earlier, the US embassy in Pakistan had denied reports that it had any role to play in the tenure extension.
However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did meet him during her trip to Islamabad this week. “I’ve had a number of very long and substantive meetings with General Kayani. We have very frank and open exchanges. I understand the challenges that they are facing and have a lot of appreciation for how they’re addressing them,” Hillary told Fox News in an interview after the meeting.
She said that various issues including the strategic dialogue and regional security were discussed, reviewed and detailed during the trip. “So we had a very broad discussion about Afghanistan, what [is] the best way to secure peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Hillary said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2010.