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Nawaz govt. still mum on issue of extension to Army Chief

Islamabad, August 21 (Online): Nawaz government is still mum on issue of extension in tenure of Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif who now has just 100 days in powerful office while rumors in this regard are being escalated across the country.

General Raheel Sharif’s has largely been appreciated for his non-political and official behavior, launching long awaited Operation Zarb-e-Azb, resorting peace in Karachi and Balochistan.

Amid anti-Nawaz protests launched by PTI’s Imran Khan and PAT’s Tahir-ul-Qadri, it is talk of the town whether current PML-N government can complete its tenure for the first time. Sources said that matter of extension of the Chief of Army has become more significant in circumstances where the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is under pressure by anti-government campaigns.

A source inside the PML-N, asked to comment on whether there was a proposal under discussion to offer an extension to Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, whose term in office expires in November, said no such proposal was being considered, even ruled out legislation to expend service of army chief from three years to four years.

Despite support of Shahbaz Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not in favour to give extension to Gen. Raheel Sharif, experts say. The prime minister was quite appreciative of the role played by the army chief in the war against terrorism but in principle he was against giving extensions. “Since the army chief went public with the announcement to not seek an extension, the matter is closed,” the experts said adding that “extension can be offered, as operation Zarb-e-Azb is still incomplete and it is also necessary for security of CPEC and logical end of Karachi operation, the change of leadership may not be a good idea.

For political prospective, Gen. Raheel Sharif’s neutral attitude is essential for smooth transition of power in 2018 general polls. The situation would be cleared within upcoming couple of weeks, experts concluded.