We have healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces: Pentagon Press Secretary

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WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has hoped that the United States would continue its 'healthy' military-to-military ties with Pakistan after the change in the government and swearing-in of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister, the Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

"We do have a healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces. And we have every expectation that that will be able to continue to be the case," John F Kirby said. PM Shehbaz was sworn in as the prime minister on April 11, following the ouster of the Imran Khan government through a no-confidence motion — making him the first premier to be removed through the democratic process.

The Pentagon official said the US recognises that it has shared interests with Pakistan with respect to security and stability. "We recognise that Pakistan plays a key role in the region."

Ex-prime minister Imran Khan repeatedly blamed the US for backing the no-confidence motion — that led to his ouster early Sunday — and has refused to accept the newly-elected premier, saying "there can't be any bigger insult to this country" — but the Joe Biden administration denied any role.

The Pentagon also ruled out any US military role in Pakistan if the Pakistan Army intervenes in view of the domestic crisis. He was responding to a question during the weekly briefing, regarding US military role if Pakistan Army intervenes in view of the domestic situation.

Kirby was asked the question that in Pakistan ".........because a crisis is still going on in the streets that deals with the former prime minister and also with his very large crowd of supporters and the military may intervene because of those things going on, is US ready in any case if something like this happens in Pakistan?" Ruling out any US military role in Pakistan, Kirby said, "I don't foresee any US military role here. ...and I'm certainly not going to, again, wade into internal domestic politics in Pakistan."

Kirby said that America recognises that Pakistan and its people are, themselves, victims of terrorist attacks "inside their own country". "I don't foresee any US military role here. And I'm certainly not going to, again, wade into internal domestic politics in Pakistan," he told a journalist at the press briefing.

Similarly, in a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki had said that a democratic Pakistan was critical to the interests of the United States. "We support the peaceful upholding of constitutional democratic principles, we don't support one political party over another," the press secretary had said.

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 the White House's statement after Shahbaz Sharif’s election, the Prime Minister's Office had said the new government wished to constructively and positively engage with the US to promote shared goals of peace, security, and development in the region.

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