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Pakistan's new army chief is 'gentleman soldier'

world Updated: Nov 28, 2007 12:59 IST
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General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani on Wednesday took over as Pakistan's new army chief at a ceremony in the country's military nerve centre Rawalpindi.

The 55-year-old general has been in military service since 1971 and enjoys the reputation of being a professional soldier and strictly apolitical. He is also reportedly known to be poker-faced, a man who can keep his cards close to his chest.

"Those who know Gen Kayani describe him as a gentleman soldier," a local newspaper reported.

The lieutenant general was named by President Pervez Musharraf for the post of vice chief of army staff, the No 2 army post, Oct 2, 2007, which virtually made him Musharraf's successor in the post of army chief.

The son of an army man, Kayani was born in the Punjab district of Jhelum in 1952. He joined the army in 1971 and, like Musharraf, rose through the army ranks to become a general.

Kayani received his training at a military college and later at the Pakistan Military Academy and was commissioned second lieutenant.

Kayani's father died when Kayani was still a young soldier, so he had to support his family. He managed to educate his three brothers and three sisters. Kayani served as deputy military secretary in the late 1980s under the cabinet of the then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

Kayani started heading the Inter Services Intelligence in 2004. As a man of principles, he reportedly declined to help a cousin who wanted to contest the election in Rawalpindi. The cousin later decided not to contest the election.

The reputation of being a gentleman was also supported by a recent instance, during which he remained silent when asked to voice his opinion on a deposed judge.

Kayani is married to the daughter of his maternal uncle. The couples have a son and a daughter.

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