WHILE it was expected that General Kayani would get an extension, the unprecedented full three-year term extension came as a surprise, especially because it was granted by a civilian government. What was equally unprecedented was the Prime Minister announcing this extension of the COASs term through an address to the nation. The announcement for this address also came barely an hour before leading one to wonder why there was this haste to sew things up for General Kayani. No one can deny General Kayanis professionalism and competency as well as his assiduous efforts to keep the military out of politics and back in the barracks in the post-Musharraf era. Having said that, the manner and timing of the extension, as well as the time period, all raise some serious issues. First, the timing itself raises issues of how far Ms Clintons support for Kayani pushed the government into giving what amounts to a new full term in office for the COAS. The Gilani announcement followed on the heels of the Clinton visit, when she openly advocated Kayanis case, and only a day after the visit of the NATO Secretary General who was vociferous in advocating the NWA operation. So would the extension now mean that the military will shift away from its earlier position that it was already too stretched and commence an operation in NWA as well as Kurram Agency? Already these operations are becoming a source of increased terrorism in the rest of the country, as well as leading to an ongoing caravan of internally displaced persons. Given how the major stakeholders in Afghanistan have all agreed to holding peace talks with the Taliban, the pressure on Pakistan to continue with a devastating and expanding military operation into NWA raises questions about what the US and NATO are actually seeking in Pakistan. If our military continues to put US and NATO interests before the wellbeing and safety of its own people, that will certainly push Pakistan towards even greater instability. Another point of discomfiture over the manner and timing of the COASs extension is the Gilani announcement through an address to the nation. Why was this deemed necessary unless the government knew that its action was under external pressure and it had to win over public opinion? Or was the timing and manner deliberately intended to undermine the COASs credibility and standing? Beyond these points of contention, there is the whole policy of extensions for senior civil and military bureaucrats that itself is highly contentious. Our problem in Pakistan has always been that institutional development has been thwarted by the rulers reliance on individuals rather than the institutions they serve. This renders institutional development superfluous. That in turn hinders a cohesive decision-making process to evolve and be strengthened and our policies only reflect the personal whims and preferences of individuals. Given his professionalism and integrity, one is hopeful that General Kayani will defy this trend.