Pakistan’s Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on Sunday announced that he would retire and step down from his position by the end of November, dispelling rumours that he is being considered for a new position in the military.
According to a press release issued by the army, Kayani will step down on November 29 as army chief after serving twice the normal three-year term for the position. The choice for his replacement has not been announced. “It is too early to say who will replace him but my bet is on General Haroon,” commented Ayaz Khan, a senior editor.
Kayani in the army press release said that he has no intention of extending his tenure as chief of army staff. “For quite sometime, my current responsibilities and likely future plans have been debated in the media with all sorts of rumours and speculations doing the rounds. The subject of being entrusted with new duties has also come up in several reports. I am grateful to the political leadership and the nation for reposing their trust in me and the Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history. However, I share the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence,” said the army chief in his statement.
Kayani had earlier said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wanted to make him head of a revamped and more powerful Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC), but the army chief has declined this position, officials confirmed.
Express News, a local TV channel said that Sharif planned to overhaul the JCSC, a largely ceremonial office, into a “central defence body” by restoring its command over the entire military establishment and giving it additional powers.
It said that the new JCSC chief would be in charge of the nuclear arsenal and would decide on action against terrorists with new powers including the right to promote, post and transfer key military officers.
In the press release, General Kayani said, “As I complete my tenure the will of the people has taken root and a constitutional order is in place. The armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order.”
The release also added that, “Pakistan Army has made its contribution towards this desired end with complete clarity of mind and a comprehensive understanding of the trajectory Pakistan needs to take. They have also proven, on countless occasions, through their priceless sacrifices that the defence and prosperity of Pakistan is their highest priority.”