General Kayani’s cigarette

…opens a window into his mind?

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?

8 thoughts on “General Kayani’s cigarette”

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

    Pop-psycho analysis at its best 🙂 Sounds true, nevertheless.

  2. Pragmatic,

    At least you got this analysis without post-modernisms thrown in gratis. For instance, how do you like the following:

    Could the class-influenced hyperstructural metathesis conjugate General Kayani’s Freudian reaction mechanisms leading him towards an exploratory simultaneous reconstructivist and deconstructivist reappraisal of the male-dominated Pakistani military-bureaucratic complex from its addictive predeliction for the postanarchic utilisation of spartan religio-societal forces in a manner suggesting a metaphorical simile with the act of successive inhalation and exhalation of carboniform narcotic particulate substances in a state of combustion?

  3. Kayani might be quite the amazing general. But its interesting to watch US media fascination with each two-bit dictator. Almost like they expect these guys to growl or bark. And when – wonder of wonders – they speak English (no less) and demonstrate a smidgen of intelligence, the media swoons like a love-struck teen. It was really hard to swallow endless discussions on Karzai’s amazing dress sense in 2002. Then treated to Mush on the Today Show – to showcase his superhuman capabilities. Now this.

    Mercifully, the last Indian to be subjected to this pet-the-animal condescension was Rajiv Gandhi.

  4. Freud on Oral Fixation – If a child is not fed enough (neglected) or fed too much (over-protected), it may become orally fixated as an adult. It is believed that fixation in the oral stage may have one of two effects. If the child was underfed or neglected, he may become orally dependent and obsessed with achieving the oral stimulation of which he was deprived, learning to manipulate others to fulfill his needs rather than maturing to independence. The overly indulged child may resist growing up and try to return to that state of dependency through crying, acting helpless, demanding satisfaction, and being “needy.”

  5. Kayani reminds me eerily of what Zia ulu haq would’ve been like in Zulfi Bhutto’s time…..

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