Islamabad, Oct 7: Pakistan's powerful Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani's decision to retire and not seek extension has been welcomed by defence analysts and former military officers but they were of the view that the announcement should have been made by the government.
Lt Gen (Retd) Talat Masood said 61-year-old Kayani's statement was a positive move as it scotched rumours which were affecting the government's image. "This is a very positive announcement. It was necessary to scotch the rumours. It would have been even more appropriate if the government had made the announcement," Lt Gen Masood said.
He said Kayani was one of the few Army Generals who understood the importance of democracy. "Even though he did interfere at times, he supported democracy as he knew its importance". Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Shahzad Chaudhry said the statement was necessary. "Further extension was just not possible. He personally too was not interested.
The statement is a positive one as it lays to rest unnecessary speculation," he said. Ayesha Siddiqa, a defence analyst said the announcement should have been made by the government and not the Army chief. "The government should have made the announcement as it would have sent a positive image.
Currently, one gets the feeling that the Army chief decides whether he wants to continue or not," she said. Ali Dayan Hassan, Pakistan Director at Human Rights Watch welcomed Kayani's statement and said a constitutional change in the leadership of Pakistan Army also strengthens the democratic transition.
Kayani is serving twice the normal three-year term for the position.
"However, it was the constitutional responsibility of the government to announce the retirement of the incumbent and announce the appointment of the new chief. In failing to do so, the government appears to have left the onus of his retirement on Gen Kayani and the military," he said.
In a statement issued last evening, Kayani who is serving twice the normal three-year term for the position, said "My tenure ends on 29th November 2013. On that day I will retire. May the Almighty Allah help and guide us all," Kayani, Kayani was appointed the army chief by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in late 2007.
He was given an unprecedented three-year extension by then premier Yousuf Raza Gilani in 2010. In a surprise announcement, he said institutions and traditions are stronger than individuals and must take precedence.
He also reposed military's support to democracy. Analysts say that the first ever democratic government transition in the country could not have been possible had it not been for Kayani who supported democracy.