THE EXPRESS TRIBUNE, ISLAMABAD, 07th OCTOBER 2013: Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Sunday took the unusual step of ruling out any change in his scheduled retirement next month, quashing months of speculation that he would accept an extension of service.
“My tenure ends on November 29, 2013. On that day I will retire,” Gen Kayani said in an unprecedented statement issued by the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Speculations were rife in the local and international media that Gen Kayani might not relinquish his office in November on the pretext that it would somehow derail the military’s anti-terror campaign. Some reports even suggested that Kayani would be made chairman of a revamped Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
Gen Kayani, however, put all such rumours to rest. “It’s time for others to carry forward the mission of making Pakistan a truly democratic, prosperous and peaceful country that embodies the finest dreams our founding fathers had envisaged for us,” he said.
“For quite some time, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumours and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I’m grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history,” he was quoted as saying by the ISPR.
However, he pointed out that since institutions were stronger than individuals they must eventually take precedence.
Gen Kayani also highlighted the army’s support to the democratic process during his six-year extended tenure as head of the powerful institution. “As I complete my tenure, the will of the people has taken root and a constitutional order is in place. The armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order,” he said.
He said Pakistan Army had made its contribution towards the democratic process with clarity of mind and a comprehensive understanding of the trajectory Pakistan needs to take.
“They have also proven, on countless occasions, through their priceless sacrifices that the defence and prosperity of Pakistan is their highest priority,” he added. “I have served this great nation and had the privilege of commanding the finest army of the world for six years to the best of my abilities and with the sincerest of my intentions.”
A senior army official told The Express Tribune that Gen Kayani had made up his mind long time ago that he would not seek any extension in his tenure. “He wants an honourable exit. He was very clear in his mind that others should also get a chance to reach the top position,” the official said while requesting anonymity.
However, it is not clear whether Gen Kayani will accept any other position after his retirement. There were speculations that he might be made national security adviser or Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States.
Following Kayani’s announcement, all eyes are now on the new chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) and the army chief.
The incumbent chairman CJCSC, General Khalid Shamim Wynne, will retire on Tuesday. One military source said that after Gen Kayani’s categorical statement, the government is likely to appoint a new CJCSC today (Monday).
The proposed names for the highest ranking military position include Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Asif Sandila, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt and Lt Gen Haroon Aslam from Pakistan Army.