The Army is gradually moving away from its central role in Pakistan’s public affairs in what is being seen as a change of direction under its new chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Earlier this week, General Kayani ordered the withdrawal of more than 300 military personnel currently posted in various civil departments on secondment.
The withdrawal of Army officers from the civilian departments has been ordered just a week before the general elections on February 18. General Kayani has already ordered military officers not to hold meetings with politicians.
In a related development, The News reported that the Pakistan Army’s intelligence
outfit, the MI (Military Intelligence), has quietly pulled out of political work after directives issued by the army chief.
Such moves are being seen by some observers as the new direction that the army is supposed to take with some speculating that this also shows that President Musharraf and General Kayani are working on different tangents. But this belief, highlighted by a major Western paper, was immediately contradicted by the government. Officials insist that the moves have the blessings and the support of the President.
Under the new moves, 152 or almost 50 per cent of military personnel in public sector institutions stand reverted to the Pakistan Army, according to an order issued by the General Headquarters (GHQ). These officers include all six major generals presently working in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), set up by Musharraf to tackle corruption.
“These orders, along with President Pervez Musharraf’s decision to
doff the uniform before taking oath as the president for the second time, will help improve Pakistan’s image,” President Pakistan Muslim League Shujaat Hussain said.
The election cell of the PPP told the media that that unlike the past it had received no complaint from its candidates against interference by the Military Intelligence ever since the new orders were issued.