Why the Chief Matters

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is a man who will leave his mark on not only Pakistan, but this region and perhaps the world as a whole. Known as a “quiet man” in military and diplomatic circles, no man has ever raised more curiosity than Pakistan’s current Chief of Army Staff – whom the Americans say they cannot ‘read’.

Time magazine ranked him 20th in the list of “Leaders & Revolutionaries” of the world in 2008 and 17th in the same list in 2009. He was also named in the Newsweek “Top 50 Global Elite” and the New Statesman “The 50 people who matter today” being placed on 20th and 24th in the lists respectively.

Generals don’t go to fight. In an unprecedented move, General Kayani however did fly an F-16 fighter jet with a co-pilot to take part in an air operation against militants in the country’s northwest last year – to experience the battle first-hand – to lead from the front.

PKKH takes a candid look at the man behind the recent turn of events in the region, and discusses the extraordinary brilliance of our Commander in Chief since an early age. With exclusive never-seen-before photographs of General Kayani’s early military career.

Every son of Pak Sarzameen that joins its great Army does so with a dream nurturing in his soul; the dream of becoming a General! Yet the quest for the elusive fourth star on the shoulder is only achieved by a rare few. Gen Ashfaq Kayani is one of them.

General Kayani is a silent soldier with a pensive look and shy smile. Kayani is well known for his chain-smoking, love of golf, and of course, his brilliance on the battlefield.

It is said that the way to truly rank an officer is to ask what his inferiors think of him, and no doubt he is one of the most highly regarded men who ever took up a command stick. His reputation is famous and his leadership battle-tested, his name is mentioned with awe and respect far beyond the borders he is tasked to protect. Time magazine ranked him 20th in the list of “Leaders & Revolutionaries” of the world in 2008.

Thoughtful and contemplative, courageous and decisive, he is not one to trumpet his image. What he does, he does for his beloved Army, for his beloved people, and for this sacred soil. Since the day he took charge his every action has proven his capacity to ignore self-interest and always put Pakistan first.

The burden is heavy. With his nation under attack from every direction, wits must be sharp and vision clear. And he has proved his mettle. His breathtaking victories, from Swat to South Waziristan have dazed his enemies and earned the admiration of the entire world. Even those fools who wage war against Pakistan are forced to admit a plain truth – Pak Army consists of lions led by lions.

Great times call for great men. General Kayani is one of the many that Pakistan has produced to face its great challenges head-on. If the General personifies his Army, then Insha’Allah, the nation is safe. And how could it not be? General Kayani leads the noblest Army in the world, and the arsenal of the Muslim Ummah. In leading the defense of Pakistan, General Kayani, is very well supported by General Tariq Majeed, Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Naval Chief, and the Air force Chief. It is an Army that fears only Allah and which loves death like its enemies love life – Every Muslim mother prays for the success of Pakistan Army.

Today Pakistan wages wars on multiple fronts. While each passing day brings victory closer, it is the blessings of Allah and the brilliance of our military leadership that is making the difference.

Leadership is the key, but it is rarely born overnight. Like an exquisite sculpture, it is honed and chiseled by many thousands of hours of patient work and grit. It is very difficult to build – impossible to fake.

Early Life and Military Career

Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was born in Gujjar Khan in 1952 and belongs to a martial tribe called Gakhars. He was born in Manghot village, Gujar Khan, suburb of Rawalpindi, known to produce Pakistan Army generals. Gen Kayani’s clan is one of the largest and most powerful in the northern Jhelum area of Pakistan’s largest province, Punjab. The harsh and arid region is famed throughout the world for only one product – soldiers. So in many ways Gen Kayani was born to do the job.

He is the son of a junior commissioned officer. He did his Matriculation and Inter from Military College Jhelum. He applied for Pakistan Army in 45th Pakistan Military Academy Long Course and received a commission on 29th of August 1971 in the 5th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment. He is also a graduate of the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia; Command and Staff College, Quetta; the United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii; and the National Defence College, Islamabad, where he holds a masters degree in War Studies.

“He who has learned how to obey will know how to command” — Solon

Gen Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani served as Deputy Secretary of Benazir Bhutto during her first stint as Prime Minister. He commanded 12th Infantry division as General Officer Commanding (GOC) stationed in Murree. His career progressed and he went on to serve as Director General Military Operations (DGMO) from December 2000 to September 2003. It was during his tenure as DGMO that the intense military standoff of 2001-2002 between Pakistan and India took place.

He was promoted to Lieutenant General in September 2003 and given command of the most important 10 Corps, Rawalpindi. He was then transferred to ISI in October 2004 as its Chief. It was at this time that Pakistan was suffering the beginnings of insurgencies in FATA, NWFP and Baluchistan. It was also the time of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s nuclear proliferation scandal.

In October 2007 he was promoted to full General and made Vice Chief of Army Staff, and on 29 November, 2007 he took over as Chief of Army Staff (COAS). He is the first ever DG ISI ever to be promoted to COAS.

Pakistan Army had been mired in politics since 1999. When Gen Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani took command, his first directive was to order military officers not to maintain relations with politicians. Gen. Kayani got the ISI to focus on external threats and leave domestic politics alone. It was made public on February 13, 2008 that Gen Kayani had ordered the withdrawal of all military officers from Pakistan’s civil departments. This step was appreciated by the whole nation as well as the Army. Gen. Kayani as DG ISI had advised President Musharraf to refrain from removing Chief Justice Iftikhar Choudary.

Year 2008 was declared as the Year of the Soldier and directives were sent to all the formations to take steps for the betterment of all soldiers. The mega building project of General Headquarters in Islamabad was halted and the allocated money for the new GHQ was distributed among the formations to improve the living standard of jawans in Pakistan Army.

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war” U.S General George Patton

After 2008, steps were taken to take the Army towards professionalism. 2009 was therefore declared as a Year of Training, and directives were sent to all the formations to get back to basics. This order was observed with great energy and from late 2008 onwards, training was increased at battalion level and competitions were held on brigade and division levels. This act greatly enhanced the professionalism of the Army.

Pakistan Army Operations 2009-2010

Pakistan is passing through a painful and sensitive era as CIA-RAW sponsored Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has challenged the very security of the nation. After many negotiations the civilian government finally decided to initiate operations against this terrorist group in Malakand agency in April 2009. Operation Rah-e-Rast was fought on a limited scale and soon most militants were captured and killed. After great sacrifices and efforts from the Army and people of Malakand, the area is now peaceful.

Pakistan Army is now protecting its own interests and challenging US and NATO on issues where the Pakistani interests clash with US and NATO interests. A recent example of this was the Kerry Lugar Bill, which has a direct clash of interest with the Pakistan Army. The Army high command has expressed its reservation in the open to the media and Pakistan Government. General Kayani has made it clear to the US Authorities that Pakistan will not be responsible for the aftermath of Afghanistan mess, and Pakistan will not allow Afghanistan to become a breeding ground for Indian Intelligence network.

Pakistan Army started this operation with high spirits because on every front, all senior Army officers including General Kayani himself visited the frontline to appreciate the troops. This, along with brilliant strategy and planning led to swift results that stunned NATO commanders in Afghanistan who have been trying to pacify that nation to no avail.

Today, Operation Rah-e-Nijat is in its final stage in South Waziristan and most areas have been efficiently cleared by Pakistan Army. Once again, the Army is the pride of the nation and an example of how effective the will of the nation is, when set against the fitna of fasadi terrorists and traitors who are following Takfiri ideology.

General Kayani’s policies during his tenure have been appreciated by the whole nation and especially the troops. A soldier always gives his all when he sees his commander sharing his moments of happiness and grief. The frequent visits of Gen Kayani to operational areas not only highlighted his own leadership qualities but also boosted the morale of the troops. Under his outstanding leadership we have seen the Army and Air Force chiefs jointly charing the Core Commanders’ conference for the first time in Pakistan Army’s history. Add to that the fact that General Kayani celebrated Eid Day with the jawans which was especially appreciated.

“Pakistan is our motherland. It is the bastion of Islam. We live and die for the glory of Islam and Pakistan. Our faith, resolve and pride in our religion and in our country is an asset, which is further reinforced after each terrorist incident,” he said while talking to the relatives of the victims of the Parade Lane mosque attack that targetted Army personnel and their families.

The recent shift in the balance of power in the region can also be attributed to Pakistan Army and General Kiynai’s tough stance concering the Indian threat and its role in Afghanistan.

Kayani crystallized Pakistan’s traditional stand on Afghanistan and warmth towards people of that country.

Speaking in the backdrop of his trip to Brussels where he put across Pakistan’s point of view on Afghan conflict, the COAS reflected sentiments of the nation by summarizing the country’s interest in the well-being of the people of Afghanistan by saying “We cannot wish for Afghanistan anything that we don’t wish for Pakistan”.

The historic remarks of the COAS once again re-affirmed Pakistan’s oft-repeated assertion that its objective was to have peaceful, stable and friendly Afghanistan. This is also a strong rejoinder to those who are engaged in malicious propaganda that Pakistan was part of the problem in Afghanistan. Ever since its inception, Pakistan has serious security problems emanating from across its eastern borders and it would least indulge in any activity that could destabilize its western borders as well.

In a recent presentation to Pakistani media, Gen Kayani also reiterated his widely reported comments on the Pakistan Army’s view of the situation in Afghanistan and the way forward there – and made it clear that his institution’s “frame of reference” for addressing the problems in that country included certain concerns that are India specific.

History, unresolved issues, India’s military capability and its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine meant that Pakistan could not afford to let its guard down.

“We plan on adversaries’ capabilities, not intentions”, General Kayani said.

Pakistan Army’s policy of differentiating between various Taliban factions and militant groups found no takers in Western capitals up until the recent past. Pakistan Army had been widely criticised for selectively targeting only those militant outfits which attacked Pakistan, namely the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and has always rejected US demands to act against Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb-e-Islami and the Haqqani network – both of which the US alleges are based in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region and are actively fighting against the US & NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Not only have Gulbuddin and Haqqani’s men never acted against Pakistan, the Pakistan Army also regards them as future power brokers in the post-US Afghanistan.

Pakistan has legitimate interests to protect in the region beyond its borders, and is justified in pursuing those interests through means it deems necessary. The US and NATO will not stay in the region much longer – Pakistan has no other option than to support the Afghan Taliban in order to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used by its arch-rival India to destabilize Pakistan. The tough line taken by General Kayani in recent weeks seems to have shaken Washington and Delhi to the core.

General Kayani has also reportedly told US and NATO commanders in the recent meeting which came on the back of Pakistan rejecting US requests to start yet another operation on its soil, that Pakistan intends to take a hands on approach and play a central role in bringing stability to Afghanistan. He also demanded the US and its allies curb Indian influence in Afghanistan as the latter has been supporting terrorism in Pakistan from its many bases on Afghan soil.

The tough, matter-of-fact line on India was in stark contrast to that of the current ‘democratic’ rulers of Pakistan, who have bent over backwards in their attempts to appease both the Indians and the Americans.

If only our civilian leaders could behave with such honor, dignity and solidarity with this nation we would be able to solve all our problems efficiently. We need good leaders in our main institutions to lead the nation. We are very thankful to Allah that General Kayani is doing an excellent job as the leader of the Pakistan Army. Pakistan is the last fortress of Islam and we must ensure that Pakistan is strengthened from within and all external enemies of Pakistan must be destroyed. Pakistani national interest should be paramount to any other interests.


  1. Fahim
    February 13, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I hope Inshallah he is a good military leader for Pakistan. But plz dont start appreciating from now only. The problems for Pakistan are too much ahead. So what is his next move is yet to be seen. He can be very good but unexpectedly can bring us down like the former Generals. But lets hope for the best Inshallah !!!!

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