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Pakistan's Army Moves To Calm Worries, Stress Commitment To Democracy

Pakistani Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor speaks with media representatives as he gives details of a captured would-be female suicide bomber Noreen Leghari during a press conference in Rawalpindi on April 17.

Pakistan's powerful military on May 10 moved to calm worries about a rift with the civilian government, issuing a statement stressing its commitment to democracy.

The reassurance came after the military last month took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the government's actions following investigations into a leaked newspaper story about a national security meeting.

The criticism had stirred worries In a country where the army has often seized power. Several prime ministers, including Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a previous administration in 1999, have been ousted in coups.

But military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said on May 10 that there was no cause for concern.

"We will continue to work with all government institutions to do what is best for the country," Ghafoor said.

"There's been a lot of talk about democracy in the past two weeks, but nowhere was there any mention that any actions should be taken against democracy."

The country has had a democratically elected government since 2008, but the army retains sweeping influence and any hint of discord raises worries about the future of civilian rule.

Pakistan's military has ruled the country for 33 of the 70 years since it gained independence from Britain in 1947.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters