- Pentagon stated that US expects to continue healthy military relationship with Pakistan
- Former PM Imran Khan had accused the US of conspiring to dislodge his government
- Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby also said he does not foresee any US military role in Pakistan.
The US has a "healthy military-to-military relationship" with Pakistani armed forces and it expects to continue the ties, Pentagon has said, days after Shehbaz Sharif became the new prime minister of Pakistan. Pakistan's relations with the US have been lukewarm, especially under the Biden administration.
The ties touched a new low after former prime minister Imran Khan, who was ousted last week through a Parliament vote, accused the US of conspiring to dislodge his government. The US government has bluntly denied the allegations multiple times. Addressing a press briefing in Washington on Tuesday, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said the US has shared interests with Pakistan with respect to security and stability in "that part of the world".
The US has a "healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces" and "we have every expectation that will be able to continue to be the case”, he said. Mending fences with the US would be one of the top foreign policy priorities for the new government, according to a Dawn report.
Experts opine that unlike his brother and three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz enjoys cordial relations with the powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75 years of existence and has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. The powerful army had, however, distanced itself from the recent high voltage political tussle between Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan, saying it has nothing to do with politics.
In response to a question on the election of Shehbaz as the prime minister and the allegations of Khan against the US, Kirby said, "I think you can understand that we're not going to comment about domestic politics inside Pakistan." The Pentagon spokesperson said the US recognises that Pakistan plays a key role in the region. "We recognise that Pakistan and the Pakistani people are, themselves, victims of terrorist attacks inside their own country," he added.
Replying to a question on any possible US action if Pakistan's military intervenes amid street protests organised by former prime minister Khan, Kirby said he does not foresee any US military role in Pakistan. "And I'm certainly not going to, again, wade into internal domestic politics in Pakistan," he said.
On Monday, hours after Shehbaz was elected as the prime minister, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said that a democratic Pakistan was critical to US interests. "We support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles, we don't support one political party over another," she told a press briefing at the White House.