July 20, 2008armyjihadislevitymilitaryPakistanSecurityterrorism

General Kayani’s cigarette

…opens a window into his mind?

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has done well to cultivate the aura of inscrutability around him. Those who know him, like the anonymous CIA official New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti quotes, admire him for being a master manipulator”.

Until late last year, when he was elevated to the command of the entire army, the Pakistani spymaster who had been running the I.S.I. was Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. American officials describe this smart and urbane general as at once engaging and inscrutable, an avid golfer with occasionally odd affectations. During meetings, he will often spend several minutes carefully hand-rolling a cigarette. Then, after taking one puff, he stubs it out. [NYT, linkthanks Rohit & Swami Iyer]

In the Cold War days, the US intelligence community used to have a battery of specialists—including psychologists and physicians—making assessments about Soviet leaders from photographs and television footages.

In the same spirit, The Acorn approached some specialists to explain General Kayani curiously masterful manipulation of the cigarette. One expert warned of the dangers of extrapolation from a single observation. But according to Prem Panicker:

Smokers do weird things to quit, or at least reduce. This is one of them: urge to smoke hits you, you make a ritual out of it that takes more time than you would need to smoke the thing. And then you feed the habit with a single puff. Satisfies the craving, and hopefully doesn’t do as much damage. Hopefully being the operative word.

So it turns out that General Kayani is grappling with cognitive dissonance. The good news is that he recognises smoking is harmful and that he must put a stop to it. The bad news is that he still has to take puff.

Could he be approaching the Pakistani army’s addiction to the jihadis in the same way?

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