General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was born in April 1952 at in Manghot village, Gujar Khan, suburb of Rawalpindi. He belongs to a martial tribe called Gakhars. He grew up in a working-low class family, son of a junior officer, Lehrasab Khan.
Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani graduated from Military College Jhelum (College No. 2828) and the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Kakul and he was commissioned in the Pakistan Army in 29 August, 1971 as part of 45th PMA Long Course in the 5th Battalion of the Baloch Regiment. He is also a graduate of the Infantry Officer Advanced Course, United States Army Infantry School, Fort Benning, Georgia; Command and Staff College, Quetta; the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Honolulu, Hawaii; and the National Defence College, Islamabad, where he holds a masters degree in War Studies.
During his career in the army, he has commanded an Infantry Battalion, an Infantry Brigade, an Infantry Division and the prestigious Rawalpindi Corps.
He has also served as her deputy military secretary of Benazir Bhutto during her first stint as prime minister. He also served as the General Officer Commander (GOC) 12th Infantry Division stationed in Murree, deployed all over the Line of Control and which comes under the X Corps (Rawalpindi).
Gen. Kayani's career progressed and he went on to serve as Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) from December 2000 to September 2003. It was during his tenure as DGMO that the intense military standoff of 2001-2002 between Pakistan and India took place. Reportedly, Kayani only slept a few hours a night during that period as he diligently oversaw the army’s mobilization and preparedness on the border.
He was promoted as Lieutenant General in September 2003, and was trusted with the command of the X Corps in Rawalpindi. The promotion indicated Musharraf's significant trust in Kayani, since an army chief cannot build an army coup without the help of the X Corps commander, with Rawalpindi being the twin city of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. Kayani led the corps until October 2004, when he was transferred to the ISI as its chief.
During Gen. Kayani's tenure at the X Corps, he led the successful investigation of the two back-to-back suicide attacks against Musharraf in December 2003. It is believed that Kayani won the trust of Musharraf after the investigation, and a prelude to Kayani's promotion to the sensitive position of ISI chief. He was awarded Hilal-e-Imtiaz, the civilian medal, for his achievements.
In October 2004, Ashfaq Kayani was made the director general of Inter-Services Intelligence, in place of General Ehsan ul Haq, who was promoted to the chairmanship of Joint Chiefs of Staff. Lt. Gen. Kayani led the ISI during insurgencies in Waziristan and Balochistan, AQ Khan's nuclear proliferation scandal and fake propaganda, and waves of suicide attacks throughout Pakistan emanating from the northwestern tribal belt. In his final days at the ISI, he also led the talks with Benazir Bhutto for a possible power sharing deal with Musharraf. In October 2007, after three years, he was replaced at the ISI by Lt Gen Nadeem Taj.
In October 2007, Kayani was promoted as a full general, and made the Vice Chief of Army Staff. At the time of promotion, Kayani superseded one officer, Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai who was on an extension for a year. He took over as the new army chief of Pakistan Army after Musharraf's retirement on November 28, 2007. The ceremony was held at the sports stadium near General Headquarters, Rawalpindi. Kayani is the first officer in the history of Pakistan who held the position of DG ISI and then went on to become the Chief of Army Staff (Pakistan) (COAS). The last time a Director General of the ISI was to be made army chief in 1999.
He is described as a soft-spoken intellectual who is a political, and disciplined and a very good golfer, he is the current president of the Pakistan Golf Association. Kayani is married and has four children, two sons and two daughters.