Pakistani military chief under pressure

June 16, 2011 at 1:19 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, June 16 (UPI) -- Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is seen as Pakistan's most powerful man, but sources tell The New York Times the Osama bin Laden killing has undermined that status.

The May 2 killing of the al-Qaida leader by U.S. forces, which went into Pakistan without the knowledge of the Pakistanis and killed bin Laden in his compound in the garrison town of Abbottabad, has so angered top Pakistani generals and junior officers that Kayani, the country's army chief, has been pushed into a situation where he is fighting to keep his position, Pakistani officials and people who have met the army chief recently, told the Times.

A coup by the irate officers, while unlikely, may not be out of the question as the officers are extremely unhappy about the general's close relationship with the United States, the U.S. newspaper said, quoting both a well-informed Pakistani who has seen the general in recent weeks and a U.S. military official involved with Pakistan for years.

Most of Pakistan's 11 top corps commanders, who together run the military with Kayani, have been insisting he get far tougher with the Americans, the report said quoting Pakistanis who follow the army.

One Pakistani told the Times if Kayani is ousted, the United States could confront a tougher anti-American army chief.

Lately, Kayani has been uncompromising even as Americans seek to repair the deeply strained bilateral relations, the report said, citing as an example of Islamabad's new attitude the Pakistani spy agency's arrest of five Pakistani informants who helped U.S. intelligence prior to the bin Laden raid. The arrests have been denied by the Pakistani military.

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