Thursday May 26 2022

UK minister denies claim of conspiracy against Imran Khan govt

British Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey. — Twitter
British Minister for Armed Forces James Heappey. — Twitter 

  • British Minister Heappey meets PM Shehbaz Sharif on two-day visit to Pakistan.
  • Says whatever is happening in Pakistan is a consequence of its domestic politics.
  • Says any suggestion that there is some outside interference is "utterly whimsical".

ISLAMABAD: British Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey on Wednesday disproved the impression that a conspiracy was hatched against former prime minister Imran Khan's government by any country in the West as a result of his visit to Russia, The News reported Thursday.

Heappey made the statement during his interaction with senior journalists through video link after a meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Islamabad. The British minister is currently in Pakistan for a two-day visit.

He categorically denied any sinister foreign plot to oust Imran Khan, saying whatever is happening in Pakistan is entirely the consequence of its domestic politics.

Any suggestion that there is somehow some sort of outside interference is "utterly whimsical", he added.

His comments came as PTI's long march and agitation was under way. The party's chairman, Imran Khan, had called for the long march to press for an early election in the country.

To a query, the visiting British minister said Imran Khan believes that US conspired with local elements to dislodge his government because of his visit to Moscow for strengthening bilateral ties. The allegation has already been denied by the US government.

However, Heappey reminded that his country was “disappointed” with Imran Khan’s visit to Moscow and had then communicated it to the then government in Islamabad.

The British minister had important meetings during his stay in Pakistan and called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif earlier. He was of the view that the Pakistan government agrees with London’s position about sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and that Russia was the aggressor.

“Certainly, the government here agrees with that. It matters a great deal. Of course it does,” he said. To another question about his meeting with the prime minister, he said Shehbaz Sharif was interested to hear that “our security and defence concerns continue to align.”

“Shehbaz was very keen to understand from me that it doesn’t reflect any sort of change in enthusiasm for the relationship with Pakistan,” the British minister said.

“We really don’t want to have to choose between the two and I don’t think we see any reason to choose between the two,” he said.

UK minister on Kashmir dispute, defence cooperation

To a question about his government’s position on the Kashmir dispute, he said Kashmir is a bilateral issue between Pakistan and India, and fundamentally it is for the two to resolve this issue.

To a question about defence cooperation between Pakistan and the United Kingdom, the minister said that the political intent is that the militaries of the two countries should have more to do with each other, train together and prepare to face challenges together. The details, he said, have to be worked out by the generals of the two sides.

Earlier, the Prime Minister Office said the prime minister received James Heappey Wednesday.

PM Shehbaz on Pak-UK ties

Emphasising that Pakistan and the UK enjoy a long-standing partnership which is grounded in historic connections and abiding people-to-people linkages, the premier hoped that the Pakistan-UK Enhanced Strategic Dialogue (ESD) would help deepen bilateral engagement between the two sides in a range of mutually beneficial areas.

In this connection, he expressed the desire to further enhance trade and investment ties between the two countries. Noting that the two countries would be marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year, the prime minister hoped that the occasion will be commemorated in a befitting manner and provide new impetus to further advancing Pakistan-UK cooperation in the years ahead.

The prime minister also stressed the importance of a peaceful and stable Afghanistan, while highlighting the importance and urgency of taking necessary steps to avert humanitarian crisis in that country.

He urged the international community to remain engaged in search for a diplomatic solution in accordance with the relevant international law and the UN charter. The premier also highlighted the serious situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).

Underlining Pakistan’s commitment to promote peace in the region, including with India, he stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions and the wishes of the Kashmiri people. He also underscored the importance of maintaining stable military balance in South Asia.

The visiting UK minister reciprocated prime minister’s sentiments to further augment the historic relationship between the two countries, especially in trade and investment sectors. He also conveyed his government’s deep appreciation for Pakistan’s cooperation with the UK, particularly with regard to evacuations in the aftermath of developments in Afghanistan post-August 15, 2021.