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Pakistan Army Chief Dismisses Extension Rumors

FILE - Pakistan's newly appointed army chief General Raheel Sharif attends the change of command ceremony in with outgoing army chief General Ashfaq Kayani (not in picture) at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, Nov. 29, 2013.

Pakistan military chief General Raheel Sharif has dismissed "speculations as baseless" in local media that he intends to seek an extension in his term, expiring later this year.

In a statement on Twitter Monday, a military spokesman quoted Sharif as saying, "[The] Pakistan Army is a great institution. I don't believe in extension and will retire on the due date."

The army chief said counterterrorism efforts will continue "with full vigor and resolve."

"Pakistan's national interest is supreme and will be safeguarded at all costs," Sharif added.

Under the leadership of Sharif, Pakistan's military launched a major ground and air offensive against local as well as foreign terrorist groups in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan in June, 2014.

Counter-militancy campaign

The counter-militancy campaign has led to significant reduction in terrorism incidents around the country, killing more than 3,500 suspected militants.

General Sharif has also personally led the efforts to help neighboring Afghanistan establish peace in the war-shattered nation.

The military's deep involvement in the foreign policy matters and putting pressure on the civilian leadership to deliver a matching response to the army-led efforts is improving security across Pakistan.

The military's apparent dominating role in domestic and foreign affairs led to speculation in local media that Sharif might be seeking an extension in his tenure to carry forward the counterterrorism campaign and would want Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to extend his tenure.

Since gaining independence from Britain in 1947, Pakistan has suffered three military coups allowing the powerful institution to rule the nation for half of its existence.

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