General Kiyani: Most powerful man in Pakistan?


An excellent article from The Guardian, arguing that head of the Pakistani army Gen. Ashfaq Kiyani has been strengthened in the wake of Bhutto’s assassination. In case Musharraf goes down in a helicopter “accident” in the coming months, Kiyani may yet succeed him and be the United States’ next man in Pakistan.

Loyal for now, Musharraf protege might yet turn on his benefactor
By Julian Borger

(The Guardian) — Pakistan drifted deeper into turmoil yesterday with two men sharing the helm: the president, Pervez Musharraf, and the general he appointed to take his place at the head of the army, Ashfaq Kiyani.The ever-voluble Musharraf occupies centre stage in Islamabad but it is his tight-lipped protege who arguably holds more power in the crisis unfolding in the wake of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination.

When Musharraf tearfully handed over his chief of staff’s baton to Kiyani on November 28, he was not just surrendering his rank, he was also giving up his main political constituency, the army.

Musharraf insists his heart still belonged to the military, but it is not a sentimental organisation. Without attending general staff meetings, he can no longer wield direct control over the armed forces’ collective thoughts and actions.

Seeking a new source of legitimacy, Musharraf had hoped to strike a political bargain with Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples party (PPP). But with Bhutto dead and the PPP in disarray, Kiyani could well be the stronger man. He leads Pakistan’s most powerful institution which, whether he embraces the role or not, makes him the country’s kingmaker.

Kiyani would not be the first chief of staff to oust the political leader who appointed him. Musharraf himself turned on his benefactor, Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister who in turn is challenging Musharraf’s defiant hold on power.

Kiyani, the country’s former spymaster as head of its Inter-Services Intelligence agency, has so far shown no sign of biting the hand that feeds him. Yesterday his forces were deployed in the streets of Pakistan’s cities, facing down pro-PPP rioters on behalf of the government.

But Hasan-Askari Rizvi, a political analyst said Kiyani’s loyalty is not necessarily boundless. “The issue now is maintenance of law and order,” Rizvi said. “However, if the agitation becomes more intense and stays for a couple of weeks, then the army will no longer defend Musharraf and will make a decision as an autonomous entity.” The moment of truth need not be bloody. The army, Rizvi said, “could let Musharraf know that it can no longer defend the government and he has to resign. It will not be a coup. It will be polite advice.”

In his long military career, Kiyani has shown no appetite for politics. Unlike most of Pakistan’s past leaders, he is not drawn from the political elite but from a soldiering family in Punjab province, and rose through the ranks.

In 1988 he served as military secretary to Bhutto during her first spell as prime minister but he later impressed Musharraf who promoted him.

But Kiyani is not entirely dependent on his benefactor. He has strong links with Washington and his pro-American credentials were enhanced when he took an aggressive approach against religious extremists in Waziristan and Swat as the US had long demanded. If Washington eventually decides that Musharraf has become a liability, it knows who to call.


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2 Responses to “General Kiyani: Most powerful man in Pakistan?”

  1. Dovaleh Says:

    What I have been waiting for since news of Bhutto’s assassination. “Involved in a helicopter ‘accident'” LOL. Seriously, that is how these things happen. Thanks for the posting!!

  2. Aaqib Says:

    KIYANI IS GREAT.I think he is the most intelligent person in World.He is powerful and so SEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXy.

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