Pakistan's former intelligence chief Lt General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani on Monday took over as the vice chief of the army staff, a step ahead of succeeding President Pervez Musharraf as head of the army.
General Kiyani, a close confidant of Musharraf who personally tracked down military personnel who were involved in two assassination bids on the beleaguered military ruler in 2003, is set to take over as army chief when the President doffs his uniform.
The army had earlier announced that Kiyani, ex-head of the Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, who succeeded Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, would assume the post of army chief when Musharraf relinquishes it.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Tariq Majeed, another close aide of Musharraf, on Monday assumed the key post of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. He succeeded Lt Gen Ahsanul Haq.
Musharraf has said that he will give up the post of army chief by November 15 to facilitate a transition to complete democracy, but a challenge to his re-election as president in the Supreme Court on Saturday has created uncertainty about whether he will take off his uniform.
Despite sweeping the poll boycotted by the Opposition parties, Musharraf cannot be sworn in as President till the apex court decides on petitions challenging his eligibility to contest the election. The Supreme Court will resume hearing the petitions on October 17.