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”Kayani feared condemning Guv murder may endanger army unity”


Pakistan”s army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had “declined” to publicly condemn the January killing of Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer, had told Western envoys that there were “too many soldiers” in the ranks who “sympathised” with the assassin, a noted author has claimed.

Punjab's Slain Governor Salmaan TaaseerFor its part, the army has so far failed to express regret on either Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti”s murder or Taseer”s, Lahore-based author Ahmed Rashid, also a senior journalist, wrote in ”The New York Review of Books”. Both Bhatti, the only Christian member of the Pakistani Cabinet, and Taseer were killed for opposing the controversial blasphemy law.

Kayani “declined to publicly condemn Taseer”s death or even to issue a public condolence to his family. He told Western ambassadors in January in Islamabad that there were too many soldiers in the ranks who sympathise with the killer,” Rashid wrote.

Photo of Pak Army ChiefThe army chief showed the envoys “a scrapbook of photographs of Taseer”s killer being hailed as a hero by fellow police officers. Any public statement, he hinted, could endanger the army”s unity,” Rashid said.

Behind this silence lies “something more sinister,” he wrote. “For decades the army and the ISI have controlled the extremist groups, arming and training them in exchange for their continuing to serve as proxy forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. But in recent years, the army has lost control of them and they are striking targets of their own.”

“Yet the army has refused to help crack down on its rogue proteges despite the fact that extremists have increasingly attacked the army and the ISI itself,” Rashid said.

This is all the more ominous in view of the resources the military commands: half a million men, another half a million reserves, 110 nuclear arms, according to US media estimates, and one of the largest intelligence agencies in the world, the ISI, which has an estimated 100,000 employees, he noted.

“If the army has now surrendered any willingness to take on the extremists, the political establishment had already given up long ago,” Rashid wrote.

President Asif Ali Zardari, the husband of slain PPP leader Benazir Bhutto, is no stranger to extremism himself and his populist base has traditionally voted for the party”s “anti-mullah, anti-army and pro-people policies,” he said.

“Unfortunately those principles were abandoned by a series of corrupt and ineffectual leaders, and the PPP today is not even a shadow of what it once was,” he said, while noting that Zardari has also “backtracked” on foreign policy goals such as improving relations with India and Afghanistan.

Pak-army-Parvez with next in Command Kiyaani

“The security agencies have unleashed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) — the largest and most feared extremist group in Pakistan, which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks — on to the streets of Lahore,” Rashid said.

“Right now Pakistan is becoming a place where there is an army without a country,”  wrote Rashid.

Always Yours — As Usual — Saurabh Singh

Source:http://news.in.msn.com/international/article.aspx?cp-documentid=4994774

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