The most important man in Pakistan, circa 2008


The world has already started publishing profiles of General Kayani – here is a recent one from the “New York Times”:

bq.. The parties already accuse Mr. Musharraf — who is widely unpopular according to public opinion polls — of fixing the elections. If demonstrations erupt, General Kayani will have to decide whether to suppress them.

*What General Kayani decides will determine who rules Pakistan, according to Pakistani and American analysts.* The decision also could affect whether the country descends into even deeper turmoil.

p. What will he do? Will he, or won’t he?

In most countries the newspapers print profiles of their political leaders. In Pakistan, the most read profiles are those of our generals. In fact, the newspapers don’t even bother writing much about most of our elected officials, including those in very high up posts like the Chief Ministers of the provinces, or the many MNA’s and Senators. At the most there are short opinion pieces about a few of them, never an actual profile.

bq.. As he has risen through the military, General Kayani has impressed American military and intelligence officials as a professional, pro-Western moderate with few political ambitions. *But the elevation to army chief has been known to change Pakistani officers.*

Mr. Musharraf was seen as uninterested in politics when he became army chief in 1998. A year later, he orchestrated a coup and began his nine-year rule of the country.

p. Kayani too is uninterested in politics, but as Zia, than Musharraf showed, it’s very tempting to jump into the Pakistani political cesspit. The article forgets to mention that Kayani was the one negotiating with Benazir on Musharraf’s behalf, so he has been greatly involved in recent politics, as there was much shuttling back and forth from Dubai and Saudi Arabia during his tenure as ISI chief.

bq. General Kayani’s personal views are difficult to discern. Since taking command of the army, he has continued his practice of never granting interviews.

That’s a good sign – hopefully if he takes over we won’t have to suffer the many press conferences which Musharraf throws. But than, until he took over Musharraf too never came on TV. Must be all the stealth training he got as a commando.

bq. In an army deeply enmeshed in Pakistani politics, he has declined to ally himself with any political groups, according to retired Pakistani military officials. As a junior officer, he briefly served as a military aide to Ms. Bhutto during her first term as prime minister in the late 1980s, but has stayed away from politicians since then.

Good sense.

bq. He is also an avid golfer and the president of the Pakistan Golf Association.

This is one thing I really dislike about Pakistani generals. Even before they retire, they already are running many things. All the corps commanders of Pakistan (The 4 or 5 next senior most generals after Kayani) run Pakistan’s biggest housing societies, and it shows in their horrible urban planning (or lack thereof).

Not that Generals shouldn’t have hobbies, but running one of the worlds biggest armies is a big enough job – it always seems a bit odd to see the list of the many other things they also run at the same time.

The newsletter for DHA Karachi, for example, lists all the activities going on in the DHA. Practically every one is signed off by a serving general. Here is a typical example from the DHA newsletter:

_By General X’s grace and Allah’s blessings, we are now decided to put in new water and sewage pipes in Kh-e-Road, because the first time around when we built this road we forget to put in the pipes. Now, we couldn’t tell the infallible general the first time around that roads need drainage, so we wait till it becomes obvious (i.e when the roads are flooded with sewage) and then we spring it on him._

Now, I feel bad for the General here, because they honestly can’t be expected to know much about urban planning, drainage, or traffic management – but they call the shots on everything (or their staff does, which is pretty horrifying in itself, as their staff knows even less about town planning).

The “Wikipedia entry on Kayani”: is a bit sparse, but give it a few months and it should really fill out.

3 thoughts on “The most important man in Pakistan, circa 2008”

  1. heard from one of ARY reporter, Kayani would be presenting himself with a huge change in Pakistan history, by arresting and slipping out Mush to hell

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