ISLAMABAD - US Ambassador to Pakistan David Hale Thursday said "United States vigorously supports Pakistan's flourishing democracy".

"Frankly, I am impressed by how lively politics are in Pakistan. We have seen a peaceful transition from one elected government to another elected government," Hale said in an interview with a TV channel.

Hale said that the extension in tenure of Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif is Pakistan's internal matter. "I'm a newcomer to Pakistan. My background is in the Middle East. I'm learning every day and I'm watching. And I'm very impressed by how lively, frankly, politics are in this country."

The US ambassador said he believed general elections in Pakistan would take place in 2018, as scheduled. "We've seen a peaceful transition from one elected government to another elected government. There is no reason to not expect there to be elections coming up in 2018. We support that," he said.

"I can't speak to the past but I can tell you today that we do believe in Pakistan's democracy and we do believe that it is the soundest basis for stability and prosperity," he added. The US ambassador further added that the US does not support "those people who want to derail democracy in Pakistan".

The US ambassador, however, avoided any comment on a reported statement by US Senator John McCain during his recent visit to Pakistan that he wants to see General Raheel Sharif to continue as the chief of the army staff.

"I was out of the country when Senator McCain was here. I can speak for the (US) administration. These kinds of questions are for Pakistan and Pakistanis, and these are not issues that we (the US) would ever take a position on," he said when asked if Senator McCain had discussed the extension of the military chief.

When asked about Taliban chief Mullah Mansour's death in a drone strike in Balochistan on May 21, Hale said that one must not forget "who was killed".

"The man had killed a number of civilians and US troops in Afghanistan, he also opposed dialogues and thus was a hurdle in peace dialogue," the US envoy added. "He was against negotiations, so we did what was needed to be done."

Hale lauded Pakistan's efforts in bringing Afghan Taliban on talk's table and the initiation of quadrilateral peace process in the last Heart of Asia Conference, but claimed that Taliban are not interested in peace talks

"Twice they publicly rejected Pakistan's sincere calls to join peace talks. They have chosen the path of continued violence," Hale said, adding that we (US and Pakistan) need to find a way to Taliban's approach. The US ambassador maintained that Afghan Taliban must renounce violence and enter political process.

Rejecting all possibilities of reconciliation with the Haqqani network, Hale opined that taking action against Haqqani network is in Pakistan's own interest. Reminding Pakistan about COAS General Raheel Sharif's July 6 statement, he maintained that it is in Pakistan's own interest to take action against such groups.

"Haqqani network and other groups have demonstrated through their deeds that engagement isn't going to get the results," said Hale.