Islamabad: US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, has denied speculation that the Obama administration had put pressure on the Pakistan government to extend Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani’s tenure.
Kayani was originally due to retire on November 28, but will now remain in office until 2013, The News reports.
Addressing the media at the US embassy in Islamabad, Mullen said: “Pakistan is a sovereign country and it is internal issue of Pakistan.”
He had earlier praised Kayani for taking “bold steps” as the Army chief, saying that he has moved troops to the Afghan border, cracked down against militants and equipped the paramilitary Frontier Corps.
Other US military officials had earlier described Kayani as a “soldier’s soldier”, and predicted that the Army would perform much better under him than his predecessor Pervez Musharraf, who was often distracted by politics while serving as both President and Army chief.
The three-year extension of Kayani’s tenure is only the second such incident in Pakistan’s history when a civilian regime has increased the services of the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).
The first such extension was given by former president Iskandar Mirza to General Ayub Khan.
The three Army chiefs-Field Marshal Ayub Khan, General Zia-ul-Haq and General Pervez Musharraf had extended their own terms while holding the office of the President.