Indian Decade

Support for Kayani Baffling

US support for Pakistan Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is baffling and bad news for India.

The three-year extension given to Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has raised fresh concerns in India, especially in light of the Wikileaks expose.

Many of the Wikileaks documents appear to suggest a strong Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) link with the Afghan Taliban, with some of these documents pertaining to a period when the ISI chief was, in fact, Kayani.

The Wikileaks documents also implicate a former ISI director general, Hamid Gul, who is said to have been active in assisting the Taliban in targeting both US and Indian interests in Afghanistan (Gul for his part robustly denies any collaboration with the Taliban, and has pointed a finger at Kayani).

It’s unusual in Pakistani military circles for fellow officers to blame each other, especially if one is a serving army chief. But what’s even more surprising is that the Barack Obama administration still considers Kayani a valuable ally in Pakistan.

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It now appears that the United States was keen that Kayani get the three-year extension, even though his strategic goals in Afghanistan appear to differ from those of the US (Kayani wants to gain ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan against India, while the US wants Kabul democratized and modernized to prevent further terrorist threats to the American mainland).

The apparent support for Kayani’s service extension is particularly troubling to India as he is implacably opposed to Delhi and determined to keep the Pakistan military India-centric. If the US really considers India a strategic partner, why would it have pushed for Kayani?