COAS Gen. Kayani announces to retire as his extended term ends on Nov 29
07 October, 2013
RAWALPINDI: Responding to the media reports about his future, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Sunday that his tenure would end on November 29, and he would retire on that day.
Gen Kayani, in a statement issued by ISPR here, 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 am 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. However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence."
General Kayani said, "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. "Pakistan Army has made its contribution towards this desired end with complete 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."
The COAS said that he had served a great nation and had the privilege of commanding the finest army of the world for six years to the best of his abilities and with the sincerest of his intentions. "It is 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 added. "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire. May the Almighty Allah help and guide us all," he said.
Many believe that the announcement by Kayani about his retirement will help bolster the fragile democracy of the coup-prone nation. Pakistanis have been speculating for months whether Kayani would try to extend his three-year term for a third time, a prospect the announcement ruled out. Kayani said there were many "rumours and speculations" about his future plans. He did not directly comment on reports that after retirement he would take over as the powerful head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.
One senior intelligence official had said Nawaz planned to overhaul the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, a largely ceremonial office, into a "central defence body" by restoring its command over the entire military establishment and giving it additional powers. "The new JCSC chief will be in charge of the nuclear arsenal. He'll decide on action against terrorists," said the source, adding that new powers included the right to promote, post and transfer key military officers.
Politicians say Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants to revamp the committee to become a central defence body that will command the entire military establishment. Kayani's appointment as head of the newly empowered committee would mean he was still de facto head of the military. That might help Nawaz ensure some continuity at a time the country is beset by rising militant violence and tensions are heightened with India over Kashmir. It might also help smooth relations with the United States ahead of a pullout of most foreign troops in neighbouring Afghanistan at the end of 2014. Much of the US equipment that is being shipped backed will transit through Pakistan.
Nawaz has a history of bitter relations with the army but is keen to preserve a semblance of continuity at a time when Pakistan is struggling to contain a growing Taliban insurgency. But keeping Kayani in a powerful role would entrench the army once again as the real decision maker in Pakistan, with the civilian government playing second fiddle.
Political parties term it a good omen for democracy
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's spokesman Mushahidullah Khan has said that General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani's announcement to retire from the post of chief of the army staff was a good decision and will put an end to uncertainty, media reports said.
He said it was an unprecedented move and such examples could not be found in the past. Mushahidullah Khan said that Kayani's statement will strengthen resolve of the institution. He added that a new general will find his place on the basis of seniority.
Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain welcomed and praised the retirement decision of General Kayani. In a statement, Altaf said the COAS had set a good example by giving the time frame of his retirement, adding that Gen Kayani and his other officers had seen very difficult time. "I pray for his good health too," he said.
Altaf said General Kayani has set a positive precedent by announcing his voluntary retirement on the completion of his constitutional term. The MQM chief said the country faced many serious crises under the leadership General Kayani. "He could have easily toppled the democratic government, but he did not do that. This enabled democracy to flourish in the country," said Altaf.
He praised Kayani's leadership, saying the COAS faced serious and difficult crisis during his service and under his leadership the armed forces defended our eastern and western borders. He paid great tributes to him and his colleagues and prayed for their health and integrity and security of Pakistan.