WASHINGTON - The United States said Wednesday said it looks forward to working with Gen Raheel Sharif, new army chief of Pakistan, a country with which Washington has close military ties.

“We worked closely with General Kayani on a range of issues over the course of time in that position. As you know, he is moving on, and we look forward to working with the new, his replacement,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at the daily press briefing in response to a question.

The spokesperson offered no comments on the reports that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has implicated the CIA station chief in Pakistan in a complaint over drone strikes.

“We have seen those reports. I don’t have any specific comment on them, except that obviously we have a range of security dialogues with Pakistanis about a range of issues and, as a standard process, we don’t speak to them,” she said.

Meanwhile, The New York Times said the choice of Gen Raheel Sharif was due to the resolve of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to take experience and tradition into account for the appointment. “But in other ways the prime minister seemed to be flexing his independence from a military command that until recent years had run roughshod over civilian governments,” the newspaper said in a despatch from Islamabad.

“Notably, General Raheel Sharif was not the favoured candidate of his predecessor, Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a power player who is resigning this week after a tumultuous six-year stint at the top of the military. General Sharif had not held any clear first-tier commands, nor had he served in the influential Military Operations Directorate or come up through an intelligence background – all points on Kayani’s resume,” the NY Times said.

“Instead, Sharif shunted Kayani’s favourite, Lt-Gen Rashad Mahmood, into the position of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee – a nominally more powerful job that in reality is subordinate to the army chief.

“No doubt, the Sharifs think he is more pliable and not as close to Kayani,” the Times quoted a senior American defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. Citing analysts, The Los Angeles Times said the appointment of Gen Raheel Sharif was “a safe, if not terribly inspiring, choice.”

“The appointment comes at a key time for Pakistan. A homegrown Taliban insurgency is threatening to wage a bloody revenge campaign after the death of its leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a CIA drone strike,” the LA Times said.

“The country also faces uncertainty with the departure of all US-led NATO combat troops from neighboring Afghanistan in late 2014, which is expected to lead to a vacuum and spark regional jockeying for influence. It faces continued tension with India over the divided Kashmir region and a separatist movement in southwestern Balochistan province. And Pakistan continues its struggle to find a balance between uniformed and civilian rule in a country long dominated by the military,” the LA Times added.