The Pakistan government on Thursday night extended the tenure of the Chief of the Army Staff, General Ashraf Pervez Kayani, by three years beginning November 29, 2010. Announcing this, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said the decision was in the best interest of the country.

According to Mr. Gilani, the decision was taken in consultation with President Asif Ali Zardari. “The nation is going through difficult times in this war against terrorists” and General Kayani “has successfully led us in this war and his staying on is in our best interests,” he said.

This extension has been speculated about for a while now as it was seen to be the best possible way to retain continuity in the military operations against terrorists. General Kayani was appointed by the then President, Pervez Musharraf, in 2007.

The U.S. is also understood have preferred General Kayani's continuation. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refused to comment on this during her recent visit to Pakistan. To repeated queries, she maintained that this was an internal matter of the country. “We have not and will not express an opinion,” she said.

General Kayani succeeded General Musharraf as Pakistan's 14th Army chief on November 29, 2007. He has held the posts of Director-General, Inter-Services Intelligence, and Director-General of Military Operations.

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