Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is due to retire in October, is unlikely to get an extension, a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari has said.
However, the repeal of a controversial constitutional amendment could see him continue in office as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would then take a call on the issue.
“Neither the army chief nor anyone from the (ruling) Pakistan Peoples Party has forwarded a proposal to the president in this regard,” Fauzia Wahab, PPP's central information secretary, has been quoted as saying this week.
“Keeping in view past examples, extensions to army chiefs have not proved beneficial for democracy and the country,” she added.
At the same time, the repeal of the 17th amendment, pushed through by then president Pervez Musharraf in 2002, would see the return of key executive powers, like those relating to the appointment of the service chiefs, to the prime minister's office from the presidency.
Zardari has said the amendment would be repealed but has not set a time line for this.
Kayani's relations with Zardari have often been described as frosty while those with Gilani are said to be cordial.
In fact, Kayani, along with Gilani, had read Zardari the riot act in March last year when he was soft-pedalling on a pledge to reinstate the Supreme Court judges Musharraf had sacked after imposing an emergency Nov 3, 2007.
This had prompted the lawyers to stage a 'long march' to Islamabad. Zardari caved in when the procession entered Islamabad.
Kayani, described as a “quiet man”, became the army chief Nov 29, 2007 when Musharraf, who was wearing twin hats, stepped down from the post.
He is credited with planning the anti-Taliban operations that began last June in Swat and three other districts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) that the militants had virtually taken over.
The operations later shifted to the North and South Waziristan areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The military estimates that some 3,000 Taliban fighters have been killed in the operations, which are now in the process of winding down.