Lahore, Feb.18 : Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff, General Asfaq Parvez Kiani, has ordered the military to end its involvement in the country's politics.
General Kiani's decree, issued ahead of Monday's parliamentary election, reversed President Pervez Musharraf's policy of including the military in politics and removes a key pillar of support from him.
A senior military source told The Daily Telegraph that "the move includes plans to overhaul the role of the military intelligence agencies in national politics", paving the way for a withdrawal of political support for the president.
The source claimed that one of Musharraf's close allies, who heads of one of the military intelligence agencies, would be removed from his post after the election.
General Kiani has recalled hundreds of army personnel from posts in civilian institutions - civilian officials have long complained about military officers taking up senior posts in the civil service, universities and ministries.
Many Pakistanis still retain respect for Musharraf, the bluff and secular commando who ended a decade of kleptocracy and offered a pro-Western liberal vision.
"He is basically a good man. He is willing to fight militants and he saved the country from thieving politicians. But forces have conspired against him," said a senior army officer.
However the army's popularity has been mauled by its meddling in politics and morale has been lowered by the numerous deadly attacks mounted by Islamic militants.
The taciturn and chain-smoking General Kiani is now seen as the key player in Pakistan's near future. He is widely respected in Western circles and is seen as a safe bet to pursue Pakistan's difficult campaign against al-Qa'eda and Taliban militants.