Describing Pakistan's powerful army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as a "complicated figure," a top US expert on South Asia has said the General along with ISI's Ahmad Shuja Pasha is the one who calls the shots in that country while President Asif Ali Zardari is "absolutely despised and loathed."
"It's interesting that the United States claims to want a democratic Pakistan, but whenever there's a Congressional delegation that goes to Pakistan, they don't meet their counterparts in the National Assembly. They all want to meet General Kayani and General Pasha, because they understand that's where the power lies," said Christina Fair of the Georgetown University.
"What Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis the terrorist groups that target India as well as us, like Lashkar-e-Taiba, what Pakistan is doing vis-a-vis the Afghan-Taliban, those policies are all going to be negotiated by General Kayani and General Pasha," she said in an interview to the popular National Public Radio.
It will be very difficult for the US to achieve its objectives in the war against terrorism and nuclear proliferation by alienating the Pakistani army, Fair said.
"But in some sense, that's exactly what it has to do if it wants to secure a future for Pakistan that is democratic and where the civilians have control over the military, not the military having control over the civilians," she said in response to a question.
Kayani is an interesting fellow, Fair said, adding that interestingly enough, the United States is always besotted by the newest chief of army staff. "They're convinced that he's a democrat, that he means well, all of these things. But the reality is he's a much more complicated figure," she said.
"He was the director of the ISI, which is the all-important intelligence agency, during the time when Pakistan began its U-turn... against the Taliban. So, it's interesting that we herald him now as the saviour of Pakistan in some measure, when it was his policies when he was the ISI chief that brought about some of the most precipitous conflicts in US-Pakistan relations over Afghanistan," she said.