ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief said on Monday the country had “excellent” ties with the United States and the best military equipments Pakistan had was from the Americans.
General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s comments come as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has alleged a campaign to dislodge him from office is orchestrated by the United States.
“We had historically excellent relations with US,” the army chief said in a statement shared by the army’s media wing, the ISPR, quoting what Bajwa had said at a conference in Islamabad. “The good army we have today is largely built and trained by US. The best equipment we have is American equipment. We still have deep cooperation with US and our Western friends.”
Khan has accused the opposition of being in cahoots with the United States to unseat him, saying America wants him gone over his foreign policy choices that often favor China and Russia. Khan, when he was an opposition leader, has also been a strident opponent of America’s war on terror and Pakistan’s partnership in that war with Washington.
Khan’s insistence there is US involvement in attempts to oust him exploits a deep-seated mistrust among many in Pakistan of US intentions, particularly following 9/11, experts widely say.
Washington has often berated Pakistan for doing too little to fight militants, even as thousands of Pakistanis have died at their hands and the army has lost more than 5,000 soldiers, according to government figures. Pakistan has been attacked for aiding Taliban insurgents while also being asked to bring them to the peace table.
The United States rejected on Thursday claims from the prime minister that it is involved in a conspiracy to remove him from power through the no-confidence vote moved against him by the unified opposition.
In his address to the nation on Thursday, Imran Khan said the move to oust him was a “foreign conspiracy” backed by a Western country that was unhappy with his visit last month to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.
The prime minister did not openly name the alleged conspiring country. He appeared to blunder when he named the United States as the origin of a “message” he said showed meddling in Pakistan’s affairs. “America has — oh, not America but a foreign country I can’t name. I mean from a foreign country, we received a message.”
In separate briefings on Thursday, the State Department and the White House said there was “no truth” to those claims.“There is absolutely no truth to that allegation,” White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield told reporters in a briefing.
Khan has faced mounting criticism of his performance, including his management of a troubled economy. On Sunday, he faces a tough parliamentary no-confidence vote seeking to oust him.
“Well, we are closely following developments in Pakistan, and we respect, we support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing. “But when it comes to those allegations [of the letter], there is no truth to them.”