Wednesday Apr 13, 2022
The Pentagon has hoped that the United States would continue its “healthy” military-to-military ties with Pakistan despite the change in the government and swearing-in of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister.
"...we do have a healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces. And we have every expectation that that will be able to continue to be the case," Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby said in a press briefing Tuesday.
PM Shehbaz was sworn in as the prime minister on April 11, following the ouster of the Imran Khan government through a no-confidence motion — making him the first premier to be removed through the democratic process.
The Pentagon official said the US recognises that it has shared interests with Pakistan with respect to security and stability. "We recognise that Pakistan plays a key role in the region."
Ruling out any US military role in Pakistan, he said that America recognises that Pakistan and its people are, themselves, victims of terrorist attacks "inside their own country".
"I don't foresee any US military role here. And I'm certainly not going to, again, wade into internal domestic politics in Pakistan," he told a journalist at the press briefing.
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.
Similarly, in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said that a democratic Pakistan was critical to the interests of the United States.
"We support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles, we don't support one political party over another," the press secretary had said.
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 the White House's statement after Shahbaz Sharif’s election, the Prime Minister's Office had said the new government wished to constructively and positively engage with the US to promote shared goals of peace, security, and development in the region.
"We welcome US reaffirmation of long-standing ties with Pakistan," the PM's Office said in response to comments made by the White House on the assumption of office by PM Shehbaz.