Kayani gets 3-year extension as Pak Army Chief
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Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was given a three-year extension of service by the government to ensure continuity in counter-terrorism operations, ending months of speculation over his continuance.
The 58-year-old Kayani, who replaced former President Pervez Musharraf as army chief in 2007, was to retire on November 28.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani announced the government's decision to extend his tenure during a televised address to the nation tonight.
"In the best interests of the country, I have decided in my capacity as Prime Minister to give Gen Kayani an extension of three years from November 29, 2010 while relaxing the existing policy and after consulting President Asif Ali Zardari," Gilani said.
"This decision has been made in the light of (Kayani's) effective role in the war against terrorism and different law enforcement operations," he said, explain the reasons for the government's decision.
Gilani said the decision would ensure continuity of leadership under the current army chief in military operations against extremists and terrorists.
He noted that Kayani had successful led operations in Swat, Malakand and South Waziristan and "his staying on is in our best interests".
"The government is presently engaged in a war against terrorism which is now in a critical stage," Gilani remarked.
"We are confident that under the leadership of Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, the war against terrorism will be taken to its conclusion," he added.
Kayani, who has played a key role in shaping foreign policy, will continue in the important post till 2013.
The country's 14th army chief, Kayani is also a former chief of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
The government's decision ended months of speculation on whether Kayani would be given an extension.
There had also been reports that the government could create the new post of Chief of Defence Staff to accommodate Kayani following his retirement.
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