News from the Far End of the World
The big news is in Pakistan. Musharraf is stepping down as chief of the Army on Wednesday and taking the oath of office as a civilian president this Thursday. But first, he will make extended farewell visits to Pakistani troops in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Musharraf's successor as chief of the army is slated to be General Ashfaq Kiyani, the former head of the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). Golf-enthusiast Kiyani trained at the US General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, was Bhutto's deputy military secretary, and is credited with helping avoid a military clash with India in 2002 and turning the ISI away from its pre-9/11 alliances with the Taliban and other Jihadist groups. Kiyani was also tasked with investigating the two assassination plots against Musharraf in 2003 which he resolved satisfactorily. Intellibriefs describes Kiyani thus:
Kiyani is a chain smoker with a tendency to mumble. Excellence and perfection are said to be the hallmarks of his personality. An avid golfer and a keen sportsman, Kiyani also happens to be the President of the Pakistan Golf Association. Military circles point out that it is after a long interval that the army’s command is being assumed by a traditional Punjabi soldier who comes from the Potohari belt of Jhelum. The harsh and arid region of Jhelum is famed throughout the Subcontinent for only one product – soldiers.[...]Kiyani is said to be a favorite of the US government.
Military circles say the rise of General Kiyani through the ranks of the Pakistan Army has been rapid, if not extraordinary. They point out that this would be the first time that the son of a non-commissioned officer (NCO) would head the Pakistan Army. His humble background as the son of an NCO has endeared him to the junior ranks of the army.
As Musharraf prepares to remove his Army uniform, both Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif (plus Sharif's wife and brother) filed papers for the parliamentary elections that will determine a new prime minister. Sharif also promised not to serve under Musharraf. Corruption by both Sharif and Bhutto do not bode well. Nor do Islamist ties.
Speaking of Islamist ties, graybeard Osama bin Laden released another prayer for his psychological war.
O Allah, Pervez, his ministers, his 'Ulama and his soldiers have been hostile to your friends in Afghanistan and Pakistan, especially in Waziristan, Swat, Bajaur and Lal Masjid: O Allah, break their backs, split them up and destroy their unity; O Allah, afflict them with the loss of their dear ones as they have afflicted us with the loss of our dear ones; O Allah, we seek refuge in You from their evilness and we place You at their throats; O Allah, make their plotting their destruction; O Allah, suffice for us against them with whatever You wish; O Allah, destroy them, for they cannot escape You; O Allah, count them, kill them, and leave not even one of them.
There's more. Read it all.
Speaking of killing, at least 45 Taliban and Al Qaeda Jihadists were killed in fighting in the Swat valley of Pakistan since Saturday.
In Afghanistan, Members of Parliament have walked out. Whether they walked out because Karzai was ignoring them or because of recent mass killings is unclear.
US Navy Teams from the USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) have started airlifting 5,000 containers of clean water and 160 tons of relief goods to remote areas of Bangladesh, devastated by last week's killer cyclone (death toll 3,243 as of Monday, with 1,180 still missing). The USNS Concord, an American Combat Stores Ship specializing in sealift operations, is nearing Bangladesh in order to offer added assistance.
Finally, Pakistan is atwitter over Jemima Khan's efforts from London England to help her former husband, cricket hero and politician Imran Khan, with release from prison where he was being held for his political activity. Imran Khan had disowned his wife, a Jewish socialite from England who converted to Islam, donned the veil, and lived in Pakistan, in order to please his friends in Islamist parties like Jamaat-e-Islami. Pakistanis are saying that he treated her badly and owes her an apology.
Technorati Tags: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Musharraf, Kiyani, Osama Bin Laden