Pakistan's powerful army chief announces plans to retire
ISLAMABAD — The powerful head of Pakistan's army said on Sunday he will retire at the end of November, clearing the way for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to select a replacement while maintaining the balance of power between civilian and military leadership.
With his term already extended once in 2010, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani had been widely expected for months to give up control of the country's nuclear-armed forces after six years on the job. But there had been mounting speculation that Sharif, who began his third term in June, could keep Kayani in a senior military position amid growing uncertainty about the region's future.
Pakistan is facing relentless terrorist attacks from Islamist militants, continued tension on its eastern border with India and uncertainty over the long-term stability of neighboring Afghanistan as U.S. forces prepare to withdraw next year.
Appointed in 2007 by military ruler Pervez Musharraf, Kayani is widely viewed as a deft leader, popular in Pakistan as well as in world capitals, including Washington.
In a statement, the 61-year-old general said he would step aside so that Pakistan can continue to progress toward a stable, functional democracy.
“As I complete my tenure, the will of the people has taken root and a constitutional order is in place,” Kayani said. “The armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order.”
Under military rule for much of its 66-year history, Pakistan has long struggled to strike a balance between its elected leaders and its military. There have been three successful military coups in Pakistan, including the one led by Musharraf in 1999 that resulted in Sharif being ousted from his second term and exiled to Saudi Arabia.
In May, Sharif was returned to power in a historic national election that marked the first transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another.
When Sharif was sworn in early June, many analysts feared an awkward, perhaps confrontational, relationship between him and the country's military.
Those fears have not yet materialized, as both Sharif and senior military leaders have worked to try to convey a unified, civilian command. Sharif, for example, has been given latitude to seek peace talks with the country's longtime adversary, India.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Social media being used to help catch British terrorist who killed Foley
- Peruvian nurse cares for 175 terminally ill cats
- Landslide in Japan leaves dozens dead
- N. Korea aims for Kerry’s jaw as string of insults continues
- Neanderthals, humans may have mingled, study finds
- Hamas insists terrorist leader still alive despite Israeli barrage
- Ukrainian troops regaining control
- Liberian slum sealed off as Ebola deaths mount
- Bombed factories in Gaza raise ire
- U.S. comments critical of Israel
- Islamic State fighters massacre as many as 700 Syrian tribesmen, activists report