Chief of Pakistan's army dies

Islamabad (Reuter) - Pakistan's army chief, General Asif Nawaz, the most powerful man in the country, died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 56, the army said. 'The general suffered a massive heart attack today and died shortly afterwards at the military hospital in Rawalpindi,' an army statement said. 'Pakistan has lost one of its most illustrious sons and the dedicated defender of its frontiers,' President Ghulam Ishaq Khan said in a condolence message to the general's widow. 'The late general was a thorough professional and a true soldier who dedicated his entire life in making Pakistan's defence stronger.'

A graduate of Sandhurst military academy, General Nawaz had a reputation as a polished, intelligent and articulate soldier who did not like politicians. Western diplomats saw him as more pro-Western than his predecessor, General Aslam Beg, who angered the United States by taking an anti-US stance during the Gulf war. The President's choice of General Nawaz's successor as commander of Pakistan's 480,000-strong army could be announced after his funeral today, military sources said.