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Pakistan’s Master Manipulator Gets His Way Again

Posted by Newshoggers.com on July 24th, 2010

From our partners at Newshoggers.com

By Steve Hynd

General Ashfaq Kayani, the head of the Pakistani army, has been retained in that position for the next three years when he was supposed to retire later this year. The official narrative is that he has reluctantly agreed to continue serving although he had not sought to do so – and that this is an internal decision which the U.S. had no part in. If you believe either of those I've a bridge to sell you.

Some, like Shuja Nawaz, think this will allow Kayani to "continue the transformation of the Pakistan into army into a professional body ready to fight insurgencies and conventional enemies equally well" and will be a stabilizing move. Others, like Josh Mull, see the extension of Kayani's term as "bad news for us, due to his cozy relationship with militants and terrorist organizations, as well as his undermining of the democratically elected civilian government" and "could be considered another in Pakistan’s long history of military coups, albeit a completely silent one."

My own view, as anyone who has followed my posts about the increasingly Emperor Palpatine lookalike General, is far closer to Josh's. The Guardian's Saeed Shah puts the underlying dynamic succinctly:

The sudden move underscores the army's strength over the democratically elected government of President Asif Ali Zardari, which has been racked by political turmoil. Kayani will now outlast the prime minister and the president and is likely to oversee the next general election.

Just as importantly, Kayani's hand-picked man for running Pakistan's ISI intelligence agency, General Pasha, has already been given his own extension.

 Guess who really runs Pakistan?

The US government loves Kayani – he's the kind of strongman Clinton, Holbrooke, Mullen and Petraeus are comfortable with while being sufficiently "behind the curtain" as to not raise too much talk of supporting dictators as was the case with Musharraf. The Western media, following their military sources as ever, love to trot out cliches about him while reporting on how important he is to US plans in the region. It's almost impossible to read a piece about Kayani in the mainstream which doesn't use at least two of "shadowy", "soft-spoken" and "chain-smoker". Some have gone as far as noting that he's respected because he's so machievellian, describing him as a "master manipulator" and quoting CIA sources as saying “We admire those traits”.

However, what you'll rarely find in Western coverage is that Kayani was ISI head during the terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2006 and Pasha was ISI head during the Mumbai massacre of 2008 – planning for both of which led back to Pakistan's intelligence agency.

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