Any extraordinary situation requires an extraordinary decision to overcome it. Under normal circumstances, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani would not have been granted another tenure as Army Chief. But Pakistan today is in the midst of a bloody war against the militants, who are threatening the countrys security and integrity. Pakistan faces an existential threat not only from foreign sponsored Taliban militants in FATA and the tribal insurgents in Balochistan, but also a deep-rooted international conspiracy that aims to destabilise and balkanise a nuclear armed Islamic Pakistan. General Kayanis second innings as COAS till November 2013 will surely be eventful, even historic. What then are his challenges? Will the war on terror be successfully wrapped up and the writ of the state restored comprehensively in FATA? Will the insurgents in Balochistan be routed and peace returned to this restive province? Will the Americans be kept at bay in case of another 9/11 and Pakistans strategic assets secured from external threats? Can the general prevail upon the US and NATO leadership to stop the drone attacks in Waziristan? Will democracy gain roots, with Pakistan emerging stronger? Indeed, the unrelenting US and NATO pressure for launching an offensive against the Haqqani network in North Waziristan will challenge the military strategist, intellectual and diplomat in General Kayani in the coming months. He would strive to safeguard Pakistans security interests in Afghanistan in the 2011 to 2013 transition phase, counter the increasing Indian presence there and facilitate the peace process with Afghan Taliban; all leading to a safe and honourable US and NATO exit and a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. General Kayani has successfully withstood US pressures to make a strategic shift from being India-centric and moving the bulk of Pakistan armys formations from the eastern to the western borders. With the freedom movement gaining momentum in the Indian Held Kashmir and increased ceasefire violations on the Line of Control, any future terrorist attack (possibly engineered by the Indians), could result in an armed conflict between the two countries. Pakistans army and the air force in particular must be prepared to counter any surprise, lightening strikes by the Indian Air Force. The Azm-e-Nau III joint Pak army-air force exercises in 2010, the biggest ever since Zarb-e-Momin in 1989 have made the Indians are concious of the Pakistani response should they resort to any adventurism against it. But the Prime Ministers statement that the extension in General Kayanis tenure would make him secure till 2013 and that he would remain within institutional limits, seemed imprudent and was hardly expected of Mr Gilani. It only served to embarrass the general which led to a flurry of speculations in some media quarters that tried to hurt Kayanis image by calling him a political general. Undoubtedly, the COAS must discharge his responsibilities according to the Constitution and take orders from the civilian leadership; however, he must assert himself should the civilian leadership go astray on matters vital to preserving national security and interests. It was Kayani, who got the crafty move to place the ISI under Ministry of Interior reversed within hours of the issue of the governments order. Moreover, had the military command not put its foot down, Pakistan would have been humiliated with the DG ISI flying over to New Delhi to appease the Indian administration after the Mumbai attacks. The armys top brass expressed reservations on the controversial clauses related to the countrys nuclear programme, as well as uncalled for US ingress into army matters in the Kerry-Lugar Act. General Kayanis intervention at the crucial moment during the long march saved Islamabad from a possible bloodbath and led to Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and the judiciarys restoration. The nation has no doubt that Kayani would continue to act boldly in larger national interest and will not allow anyone in the present government to undermine the countrys security. The Prime Minister was right on mark, when he praised the Army Chief as a supporter of democracy. Under Kayani the armys mindset appears to have undergone a definite change. That governing the country is certainly not the militarys job. He must be given credit for ensuring that the army stayed away from politics and prohibiting any indulgence in politics in any form. Hopefully, this thought process would permeate deeper in the militarys rank and structure, gaining firm roots in General Kayanis second term in office. The army would genuinely hate to see democracy derailed but, like all Pakistanis, would desire that the country be ruled by a clean and honest leadership that upholds the rule of law and the peoples interests. If the 2008 general elections were accepted by all political parties to be free and fair, the credit must go to the Army Chief, who ensured that the army or the intelligence agencies made no attempt to influence the election results which used to be a common allegation in the past. The next elections (mid or final) with General Kayani as COAS would hopefully be the most transparent, free and fair elections in Pakistans history. Hence, two general elections under Kayani would auger well for democracy to flourish in Pakistan which may hopefully bring to the helm a truly honest and capable political leadership. With the Defence Ministrys notification already issued, it is clear that General Kayani has accepted the second tenure as COAS. Given the dismal past track record of the countrys decision makers in appointing the right people as heads of national institutions, it is possible that had the selection of the new Army Chief been mismanaged or politicised, it could have created an awkward situation in the higher military leadership. Any further debate on the merits and demerits of the governments decision to extend General Kayanis tenure, may only serve to confuse the nation and demoralise the army at a time when even a corrupt US puppet like Hamid Karzai is calling for military action by the US and NATO forces in Pakistan. It is therefore the need of the hour to show complete unity with the army and its chief. Let the incumbent Army Chief turn the military into an even better trained, motivated and professional fighting war machine, in the next three years. For Kayani the challenges are formidable and the tasks that lie ahead are enormous. He has sincerely worked to protect our national interests and has kept the system going by not opting for the General Waheed Kakar approach. The political leadership must stand by General Kayani in the difficult times to come. It is earnestly hoped that he would retire in 2013 with honour and not end up like General McArthur. The writer is a retired brigadier