“Institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals”

Putting at rest the suspense over his future, Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Sunday said he shared the general opinion that institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence, and he would retire on November 29, 2013 at the end of his tenure.

Responding to media reports about his future, Gen. Kayani in a statement from the Inter-Services Public Relations, said, “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 Pakistan Army at this important juncture of our national history.”

“It is time for others to carry forward the mission of making Pakistan a truly democratic, prosperous and peaceful country,” Gen. Kayani said, adding that he had the privilege of commanding the finest army in the world for six years to the best of his abilities and with the sincerest intentions.

Gen. Kayani who got an extension in 2010, said as he completed his tenure, the will of the people has taken root and a constitutional order is in place. He also indicated that the armed forces of Pakistan fully support and want to strengthen this democratic order. “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,” he said. Earlier, he was busy witnessing a field exercise “Azme Nau 4” in a desert close to Hyderabad. The last such exercise was held in 2010.

His statement comes after intense speculation that he would be made Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) in a new and more powerful avatar after the present incumbent General Khalid Shameem Wynne who took charge on October 8, 2010, retires. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has to take a call on Gen. Wynne’s successor soon.

Meanwhile, according to media reports Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid on Sunday said that a decision was yet to be made with regard to new appointments in the Army and consultations were still underway. He also said that there is no truth in the news about appointments of military officers with reference to reports on the Chief of Army Staff being made the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Government officials were unwilling to confirm that the till — now ceremonial post of CJCSC will be upgraded to a more powerful position with Gen. Kayani in charge. However, Mr. Sharif is of the opinion that new appointments will be made on the basis of seniority. In 1998, Mr. Sharif chose General Pervez Musharraf overriding the principle of seniority and is not likely to repeat the same mistake.

A retired military officer said it would be a bad precedent to continue with Gen. Kayani in whatever position as it would send a wrong signal to the army. He has already been given one extension and he has completed two successful terms. When he was due to retire in 2010 he was given an extension by the former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.