Ashfaq Parvez Kayani

Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani

Corps Commander Rawalpindi:

Kayani was promoted as Lieutenant General in September 2003, and was given the command of the X Corps in Rawalpindi. The promotion indicated Musharraf’s significant trust in Kayani, since an army chief cannot build an army coup without the help of the X Corps commander. Kayani led the corps until October 2004, when he was transferred to the ISI as its chief.

During Kayani’s tenure at the X Corps, he led the successful investigation of the two back-to-back suicide attacks against Musharraf in December 2003. It is believed that Kayani won the trust of Musharraf after the investigation, and a prelude to Kayani’s promotion to the sensitive position of ISI chief. He was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the civilian medal, for his achievement.

Inter-Services Intelligence:

In October 2004, Ashfaq Kayani was made the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in place of General Ehsan ul Haq, who was promoted as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. Kayani led the ISI during a bleak period, with insurgencies in North-West Pakistan and Balochistan, Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear proliferation scandal, and waves of suicide attacks throughout Pakistan emanating from the northwestern tribal belt. In his final days at the ISI, he also led the talks with Benazir Bhutto for a possible power sharing deal with Musharraf. In October 2007, after three years, he was replaced at the ISI by Lt Gen Nadeem Taj.

Kayani was also present at the March 2007 meeting that took place between Musharraf and Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, when the former military ruler informed the top judge that he was suspended. Accounts of that meeting narrated that Kayani was the only one among Musharraf’s aides who did not speak a word.

Chief of Army Staff:

In October 2007, Kayani was promoted as a full general, and made the Vice Chief of Army Staff. At the time of promotion, Kayani superseded one officer, Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai who was on an extension for a year. He took over as the new army chief of Pakistan Army after Musharraf’s retirement on November 28, 2007. The ceremony was held at the sports stadium near General Headquarters, Rawalpindi. Kayani is the first officer in the history of Pakistan who held the position of DG ISI and then went on to become the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). The last time a Director General of the ISI was to be made army chief in 1999, the Army staged a bloodless coup to reinstate the proposed outgoing Chief of Army Staff, General Pervez Musharraf.

Withdrawal Of Military From Civilian Government:

In January 2008 General Kayani passed a directive which ordered military officers not to maintain contacts with politicians. It was further made public on 13 February 2008 that General Kayani ordered the withdrawal of military officers from all of Pakistan’s government civil departments. It was an action that reversed the policies of his predecessor, President Musharraf. It was welcomed by President Musharraf’s critics, who have long demanded that the military distance itself from politics. The Pakistani media reported that the army officers would be withdrawn from 23 wide-ranging civil departments, including the National Highway Authority, National Accountability Bureau, Ministry of Education, and Water and Power Development Authority.

2008 general election:

On 7 March 2008 General Kayani confirmed that Pakistan’s armed forces will stay out of politics and support the new government. He told a gathering of military commanders in the garrison city of Rawalpindi that “the army fully stands behind the democratic process and is committed to playing its constitutional role.” The comments made were after the results of the Pakistani general election, 2008 where the Pakistan Peoples Party won the election and began forming a coalition government who were opposed to President Pervez Musharraf.

Perceptions of Kayani as COAS:

When he became COAS, several top-level U.S. officials visited General Kayani in succession to make up their own minds about him. Most, including the then CIA chief Michael Hayden, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and former CENTCOM-commander Admiral William Fallon came away confident that Kayani “knows what he’s doing.”

Kayani’s first move as army chief was to visit the front lines in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Spending the Muslim holiday of Eid not with his family, but rather with his soldiers prompted American military officials to praise him as a “soldier’s soldier.” A U.S. report quoted retired Pakistani military officials as saying that in “an army deeply enmeshed in Pakistani politics, General Kayani had declined to ally himself with any political groups“. As a Brigadier, he briefly served as a military aide to Benazir Bhuttoduring her first term as prime minister in the late 1980s, but has stayed away from politicians since then.

Recent events:

About the Afghan war, Kayani is reported to have said, “the Pakistani people believe that the real aim of U.S. [war] strategy is to denuclearize Pakistan.”

In January 2011, and after, there was criticism of General Kayani’s handling of the Raymond Davis saga. Davis, a CIA contractor, was hastily tried and acquitted of murder charges in exchange for blood money paid to relatives of the victims, after which he was sent out of Pakistan within a matter of hours. Knowing the dynamics of the Pakistani state and the nature of this particular case, it was impossible for Davis to be released and deported from Pakistan without the knowledge and cooperation of Pakistan’s Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

The day after Davis’ release, over 40 people were killed in the Datta Khel airstrike in North Waziristan in the FATA, in a drone strike by a US Predator aircraft. The target appeared to be a compound operated by Hafiz Gul Bahadur, a Taliban leader. The dead included local tribal leaders. The strike, intended to further the local war effort, instead added to the unpopularity of drone strikes and added to the anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. Kayani conducted a rare press conference in which he condemned the drone strike (even persuading the Pakistani government to summon American Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron Munter, and lodge a “protest in the strongest possible terms”) and labeled it “intolerable”. However, this has not satisfied most Pakistanis who feel that mere condemnations of American brutality and provocation aren’t enough and that instead more tangible steps such as withdrawal of cooperation in the war on terror need to taken in order to salvage Pakistan’s own interests.

Kayani’s comments about the Datta Khel strike came to be put in the broader context of public and private communications by Pakistani officials with Washington, including an April, 2011, visit by the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, to CIA DirectorLeon Panetta at CIA headquarters. “[S]ome officials in both countries [were] saying intelligence ties [we]re at their lowest point since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks spurred the alliance,” according to one report. The report went on to say the overall communications included private demands that the CIA suspend drone strikes and also reduce the number of U.S. intelligence and Special Operationspersonnel in the country. After the ISI-CIA meeting, CIA spokesman George Little said the intelligence relationship “remains on solid footing.”

Forbes Magazine:

Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was named the 34th most powerful person in 2011 by Forbes Magazine.






You can subscribe by e-mail to receive news updates and breaking stories.