Tuesday, April 12, 2022
WASHINGTON: A democratic Pakistan is critical to the interests of the United States, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, hours after Shehbaz Sharif was elected as the prime minister.
Ex-prime minister Imran Khan repeatedly blamed the US for backing the no-confidence motion — that lead to his ouster early Sunday — and has refused to accept the newly-elected premier, saying "there can't be any bigger insult to this country" — but the Joe Biden administration denied any role.
In a press briefing at the White House, Psaki said: "We support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles, we don't support one political party over another."
The White House press secretary said the United States "certainly" supports the principles of rule of law and equal justice under the law.
Psaki added that the US values its long-standing cooperation with Pakistan and has always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to US interests — that remains unchanged regardless of who the leadership is.
In response to a question about whether Biden would call Shehbaz, Psaki said: "In terms of future calls, I don't have anything to predict at this point and time, obviously, we stay in close touch with them at a range of levels."
Since Biden assumed the US president's office in 2021, Imran Khan and Biden did not hold a telephonic conversation.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan congratulated Shehbaz on becoming the 23rd premier of Pakistan.
In his congratulatory message to Shehbaz on Twitter, PM Modi said: "Congratulations to H. E. Mian Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on his election as the Prime Minister of Pakistan."
"India desires peace and stability in a region free of terror so that we can focus on our development challenges and ensure the well-being and prosperity of our people," he said.
In a telephonic conversation with Shehbaz, Turkish President Erdogan told the newly-elected prime minister that he was "extremely happy" about him being elected as the premier.
"I am sure that under your leadership, Pakistan-Turkey's brotherly ties will bolster," said Erdogan, who called Shehbaz hours after the lower house of the Parliament elected him.
In response, Shehbaz said he aspired to bring both the countries closer during his tenure as the prime minister and thanked Erdogan for his congratulatory telephonic call.