Experts hail extension to Pakistan army chief (Lead)

July 23rd, 2010 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Yousuf Raza Gilani Islamabad, July 23 (IANS) Strategic experts in Pakistan have hailed the three-year extension granted to army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, calling it a wise decision.

Kayani got the extension after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Thursday that rules were bent for the move.

Defence analysts said Kayani, who took charge of the Pakistan Army in 2007, was conducting successful military operations against terrorism and the extension was a right decision.

“You can’t change horses in mid-stream, particularly a commander when war is going on,” Dawn newspaper Friday quoted Gen (retd) Jamshed Ayaz as saying.

He said the military operations were a success due to the policies of the army, particularly Kayani who was “leading from the front”.

He observed that Kayani was simultaneously dealing with the US, Afghan and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Talat Masood, a defence analyst, called the extension a “wise decision” in the prevailing scenario.

He said Kayani had raised the professional capabilities of the army and improved the army’s image in Pakistan and abroad.

Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Hameed Gul, however, told a TV channel that it would have been better had Kayani declined the extension.

Kayani, himself a former chief of the all-powerful ISI, succeeded General Pervez Musharraf as the 14th army chief.

If Kayani had not got the extension Thursday, Lt. Gen. Khalid Shameem Wyne, who is next on the seniority list, was expected to get the top post, PakTribune newspaper reported Friday.

The Pakistan Army currently has two generals, 28 lieutenant generals and around 170 major generals.

Three lieutenant generals were given one-year extensions in the past few months, including ISI chief Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha.

The Pakistan Army, which has lost a large number of men in the battle against the Pakistani Taliban near the border with Afghanistan, is counted as a key ally in the US war on terror.

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