Pak Army Chief orders military out of government

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Islamabad, Feb.13 : Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Asfaq Parvez Kayani, has ordered the withdrawal of military officers from the government's civil departments, reversing his predecessor, President Pervez Musharraf's policy.

The step is being seen as General Kayani's boldest step yet to disentangle the military from the civilian sphere, the New York Times reports.

Major General Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, said General Kayani made the decision last week, but the order was announced Tuesday, less than a week before parliamentary elections on February 18.

Major General Abbas said that it would take three to six months to complete the shift from a civilian role to a military one.

"A letter has been written by the Ministry of Defense to work out the details of getting the release of military officers working in several civilian departments," he was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

As army chief, General Kayani has moved gradually to separate the military from civil affairs and politics, ending an unpopular policy of President Musharraf, who had moved the military into running Pakistan's affairs since taking power in a coup in 1999.

Last month, General Kayani warned officers not to maintain contacts with politicians.

ANI

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