‘Kayani in favour of democratic set-up’
The News, January 16, 2009
RAWALPINDI: Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani wants to see that the present democratic experiment succeeds and has no inclination towards politics, says a senior journalist and columnist.
Senior journalist and columnist Irshad Ahmad Haqqani, who along with another intellectual met the COAS in Lahore, wrote in a column published in Daily Jang that he found Gen Kayani a professional, disciplined and punctual soldier.
Gen Kayani had especially invited him for a meeting at his residence in Lahore, which lasted for about three hours. Haqqani says that they openly discussed all important national and international issues, including the Pak-India tension, prospects for long-term relations with India, the country’s political scenario, the future of Pakistan, terrorism created problems and Pakistan’s nuclear assets.
“Gen Kayani speaks less, his subordinates say that he is very strict in discipline, but I found him very kind-hearted,” Haqqani wrote. “Kayani says that whenever he visits injured soldiers or inquired about their health, he could not tolerate their pain.”
The COAS was also fond of book reading, as he informed the columnist that he had requested Iftikhar Arif to write the names of 250 books, which he (Kayani) should read. “Gen Kayani had already read most of the recommended books,” Haqqani stated.
Despite the pressure on the general due to the country’s situation, keeping balance in relations with the government, professional problems of the Army, leading the Army, meetings with foreign dignitaries, preparing lectures for national and international gatherings and as contrary to the previous practice, keeping the Army away from politics, Haqqani found the COAS relaxed and confident.
Haqqani says that Kayani sleeps only for five hours. He himself daily reads most of the national and international newspapers and journals, besides watching the summary of various national and world TV channels.
Kayani is known for speaking less, but he talks openly at gatherings of friends, Haqqani writes and quoted the COAS as saying that he was ready to talk till 2:00 am. “Gen Kayani is very cordial, which is not for public relations like traditional cordialness of Gen Zia but in reality,” Haqqani said.