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US watching fate of Kayani: Report

Washington: With Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani facing strident criticism following the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the US is keeping a close tab on the "ultimate fate" of Pakistan`s powerful army chief.

Criticism of Kayani inside Pakistan had grown in recent months as he became close to the Obama administration and Pentagon. But in the wake of the bin Laden raid, the criticism has increased from an officer corps furious that US troops invaded Pakistan`s territory without the Pakistani military, and especially Kayani, being consulted, CNN reported today.

Kayani "is facing more vocal and strident criticism than he has in the past," a senior US military official was quoted as saying by the network on its website. "We really think he is coming under increased scrutiny by junior and mid-grade officers."

This is the type of scrutiny senior Pakistani Generals like Kayani are "not accustomed to facing," the official said.

"The United States is watching closely to the see the ultimate fate of the most powerful man in Pakistan (Kayani), the report said.

US officials are closely watching a group known as the "11 corps commanders," the senior Pakistani Generals hand- picked by Kayani to command. Keeping their loyalty will be crucial for Kayani to keep his job, the report said.

Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, "faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels` coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question," The New York Times had reported yesterday.

The Washington Post also quoted unnamed US officials as saying Kayani "is fighting to survive. His corps commanders are very strongly anti-US right now, so he has to appease them."

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