In other security-related developments, media outlets also provided updates on the kidnapping of Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Kabul Tariq Azizuddin. According to Pakistan’s Daily Times, the “local Taliban” on Tuesday claimed responsibility for his abduction and said “they would release him in return for Taliban commander Mullah Mansoor Dadullah,” who was arrested in Quetta on Monday. Geo TV quoted the bureau chief of an Arab television channel, who said the local Taliban had asked tribal elders to convey their message to the Pakistani government.
Pakistan Army Chief Orders Military Out of Civilian Government Agencies; Update on Pakistan Ambassador
February 13, 2008 by Kalsoom
According to news sources yesterday and today, the new Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Kayani is withdrawing hundreds of army officers from civilian positions in the government “in a move widely seen as reducing the military’s role in politics,” noted the AFP. The NY Times reported that this action essentially “reverses an important policy of his predecessor, President Pervez Musharraf.” The news agency added that this order by Kayani “was his boldest step to disentangle the military from the civilian sphere of the government since he assumed the post after Mr. Musharraf stepped down as military chief in November.” Although army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas said he made the decision last week, Kayani only announced it yesterday, less than a week shy of the much-anticipated Feb. 18th elections.Kayani has gradually shifted the military away from the political arena. Last month, the general warned officers not to maintain contacts with politicians. Although analysts call these actions “overdue,” they nevertheless show the army’s seriousness in getting out of civilian affairs. A piece in the Wall Street Journal yesterday further highlighted this development, noting that that shift “could change how the Bush administration approaches Pakistan and the war against Islamist extremism.” The WSJ added, “The moves, say senior Pakistani officers, stand as a clear signal to Mr. Musharraf that he can’t rely on his former allies in the military to get ‘desirable results’ from the vote.” Moreover, Kayani seems to be viewed by U.S. officials as a more favorable alternative to the President, and many say his leadership “could enhance Washington’s ability to fight Al Qaeda.” The WSJ added, “They say he seems to agree more than Mr. Musharraf on the need to cooperate with Afghan and U.S. forces to track militants flowing over the Afghan-Pakistan border.”