US says ‘important
security relationship’
with Pakistan to continue
under new Premier

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ISLAMABAD: The United States said on Monday it had a “strong and abiding” relationship with Pakistan, especially in the security domain, which would continue under the new leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif was sworn-in as the country’s new prime minister on Monday following a week-long constitutional crisis that reached a climax on Sunday when Imran Khan was ousted as premier in a no-confidence vote in parliament.

White House Secretary Jen Psaki

Over the last few weeks, Khan has said the move to remove him was an attempt at regime change backed by the United States. The White House and State Department have repeatedly denied the US had sought to remove Khan.

At a press briefing on Monday, White House Secretary Jen Psaki said she did not have “a prediction of a call at this point in time,” when asked if President Joe Biden would telephone the new Pakistani PM. However, she added:

“We have a long, strong and abiding relationship with Pakistan, an important security relationship and that will continue under new leaders.”

Sharif said in an interview last week good relations with the US were critical for Pakistan “for better or for worse,” in stark contrast to Khan’s prickly ties to Washington.

In his maiden speech as PM he said Pakistan had a long history of bilateral relations with the US “which have seen ups and downs. So, does this mean we spoil ties? I think we shouldn’t,” he told the house. “We should maintain our ties with America on a principle of equality.”

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that a democratic Pakistan is critical to the interests of the United States.  She said: “We support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles, we don’t support one political party over another.”

The White House press secretary said the United States “certainly” supports the principles of rule of law and equal justice under the law.

Will Biden call Shehbaz?
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 a question about whether Biden would call Shehbaz, Psaki said: “In terms of future calls, I don’t have anything to predict at this point and time, obviously, we stay in close touch with them at a range of levels.”

Since Biden assumed the US president’s office in 2021, Imran Khan and Biden did not hold a telephonic conversation.