ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The Pakistani government on Thursday gave the country’s top military official, army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, another three years in his post, a move that analysts said would bolster Pakistan’s anti-terrorism fight and cement its role in neighboring Afghanistan.
Kayani has won praise for leading Pakistan’s fight against homegrown Taliban militants but he’s also at the center of the country’s controversial effort to influence the outcome of the war in Afghanistan by pushing Kabul to share power with Taliban insurgents.
In a nation with a history of military coups, the civilian government’s decision will further enhance the power of the army chief, who leads Pakistan’s dominant institution.
It’s been only two years since the country emerged from its last period of military rule, and it’s unprecedented for a civilian government to extend the army chief’s tenure to this extent.
The move to grant more time to the U.S.-trained Kayani came as no surprise, but experts in and out of government had predicted one or two years at most.