General Ashfaq Kayani, head of the Pakistani army since 2007, is the most powerful man in a country with huge geopolitical significance - he is responsible for the battle against Islamist militants, managing tensions with India and securing the country's nuclear arsenal.
Hailed as a "soldier's soldier" in the US, he has endorsed democracy - noteworthy in a country blighted by military dictatorships. He is also hugely popular among the Pakistani people, having visited flood-stricken regions and donated military salaries to the relief effort while the president was on an expensive foreign tour.
But will this apparently apolitical man use the national calamity to follow in the footsteps of his predecessors and move against the weak civilian government?
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