Extension of COAS tenure is Pakistan’s internal matter: US ambassador


US Ambassador in Pakistan David Hale has said that the extension in tenure of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is Pakistan’s internal matter.

Speaking in a talk show of a private TV channel, the ambassador said that the United States fully supports democracy in Pakistan and that stability in the South Asian Muslim-majority nation is closely linked to democracy in the country.

“We vigorously support Pakistan’s flourishing democracy,” he said during the interview.

“I’m a newcomer to Pakistan. As I said earlier, my background is in the Middle East. I’m learning every day and I’m watching. And I’m very impressed by how lively, frankly, politics are in this country.”

The US ambassador said he believed general elections in Pakistan would take place in 2018, as scheduled.

“We’ve seen a peaceful transition from one elected government to another elected government. There is no reason to not expect there to be elections coming up in 2018. We support that,” he said.

“I can’t speak to the past but I can tell you today that we do believe in Pakistan’s democracy and we do believe that it is the soundest basis for stability and prosperity,” he added.

The US ambassador further added that the US does not support “those people who want to derail democracy in Pakistan”.

The US ambassador, however, avoided any comment on a reported statement by US Senator John McCain during his recent visit to Pakistan that he wants to see General Raheel Sharif to continue as the chief of the army staff.

“I was out of the country when Senator McCain was here. I can speak for the [US] administration.

“These kinds of questions are for Pakistan and Pakistanis, and these are not issues that we [the US] would ever take a position on,” he said when asked if Senator McCain had discussed the extension of the military chief.