After nine years as the boss of Pakistan's Army, President Pervez Musharraf hung up his uniform on Wednesday, handing over the baton to his successor General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Musharraf, who takes oath for a second presidential term on Thursday as a civilian, had ousted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in October 1999.
The General took over as president in 2001. "Today I am handing over the command of the armed forces to General Kayani, who I know for more than 20 years," Musharraf said in Rawalpindi.
"I know his professional skills since he was a colonel, and I knew from then that he is an excellent soldier. I am confident that the army would shine better than before under his command," he said.
Previous experiences of handpicking successors in Pakistan —Musharraf by Sharif in 1998 and Zia-ul-Haq by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in 1976 — proved to be disasters for both Sharif and Bhutto. Kayani is the first spy boss for the top army job in Pakistan and is in the good books of Americans and the British.
With elections scheduled for January, Musharraf and Kayani could be sharing power with a new prime minister and it is yet to be seen what kind of an equation evolves between them.