Feb 28, 2009
While attention at home has been naturally absorbed by events in Punjab, in Washington it is the Pakistan's COAS, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is in the spotlight. General Kayani is meeting key US and Afghan officials to chalk out a new policy to combat extremism in the region. But given the situation in his country, General Kayani has inevitably faced questions about whether the armed forces would consider moving in if things worsened in Pakistan.So far, diplomacy has been the hallmark of the low-key general's visit. But beyond developments on Pakistan's political front, it is apparent that US leaders are extremely eager to develop a sound relationship with him. The view expressed by the candid US special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, that Pakistan's military may not be willing to abide by the orders of its civilian government when it comes to combating militancy, means Mr Holbrooke will be keen to ensure he can work out an understanding of one kind or the other with General Kayani. The main purpose behind the ongoing meetings in Washington is to enable Islamabad and Kabul to evolve closer cooperation. This is crucial to winning the war on terror. A number of touchy issues are said to have been brought up during discussions, and the degree of success in sorting them out may well determine how things develop on this front during the coming months. General Kayani's visit is thus a crucial one. It is likely to set the tone of relations between him and the US and the Afghans for the future – and as such may lay down the blueprint for short- and medium-term developments in the continuing struggle to overcome terror and restore at least some kind of stability in the region.