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."
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.