By Lalit K Jha
The US values its long-standing cooperation with Islamabad and has always viewed that a prosperous and democratic Pakistan is critical to the American interests in the region, the White House said on Monday, as Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was sworn-in as the Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Responding to a series of questions on major political developments in Pakistan and the election of Sharif as the new Prime Minister after Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly on Sunday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the US value its long standing cooperation with Islamabad.
We value our long standing cooperation with Pakistan and have always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan critical to US interests. That remains unchanged regardless of who the leadership is, she told reporters at her daily news conference.
However, Psaki refrained from responding to questions on the possibility of a phone call between President Joe Biden and Sharif.
I don’t have a prediction of a call at this point of time. Obviously, those are assessments made day by day and especially after new leaders are elected. Of course, we have a long, strong and abiding relationship with Pakistan, an important security relationship and that will continue under new leaders, Psaki said.
President Biden, who was inaugurated in January 2021, did not make a call to former prime minister Khan during his tenure. Before his ouster, Khan has alleged that there was a “foreign conspiracy” hatched in Washington to remove his government from power.
Opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif was sworn-in as the 23rd prime minister of Pakistan on Monday, hours after ousted premier Imran Khan’s lawmakers resigned en masse, signalling continued political instability in the coup-prone country.
Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administered the oath of office to 70-year-old Shehbaz in President Dr Arif Alvi’s absence, who went on ‘sick’ leave ahead of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader’s inauguration.