Washington: On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken congratulated newly-elected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and said that the US will continue to work with Pakistan’s administration.
Shehbaz was sworn in as Pakistan’s 23rd prime minister on Monday, after his predecessor, Imran Khan, was ousted from office last week in a no-confidence vote.
Blinken said in a statement released Friday night that Pakistan has been a vital partner for over 75 years on a wide range of common interests, and that the US appreciated their partnership.
“The United States sees a strong, wealthy, and democratic Pakistan as critical to both nations’ interests,” he continued.
The Prime Minister’s Office reiterated the importance of collaboration with the US in response to the comments. The new administration tweeted, “The new government intends to work constructively and positively with the US to pursue shared goals of peace, security, and prosperity in the area.”
The PMO also emphasised the need of strengthening the connection based on the values of equality, mutual benefit, and mutual interest.
Blinken’s remarks come a day after Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the US has a “healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces,” and that “we have every expectation that will be the case.”
“We acknowledge Pakistan’s importance in the region. We acknowledge that Pakistan and its people have been victims of terrorist acts within their own nation “Added he.
In answer to a query concerning the former prime minister’s charges against the US for its participation in the regime transition, Kirby declined to comment, stating that the US would not discuss Pakistani domestic affairs.
After Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the US of plotting to destabilise his administration, relations between Islamabad and Washington reached a new low. He made his claim based on a diplomatic cable in which it was said that a State Department official warned of repercussions for bilateral ties if the no-confidence motion against then-Prime Minister Imran Khan failed.
The charge had been refuted by Washington.
Relations with the United States have been strained since February, when former Prime Minister Imran Khan went ahead with his scheduled trip to Moscow, which coincided with Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine.
Pakistan later abstained from voting on a United Nations General Assembly resolution criticising Russia’s conduct and asking that it leave from Ukraine immediately, despite the US and its European allies urging Islamabad to do so.
One of the new government’s top foreign policy priorities would be to mend fences with the United States.