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US wants ties with Pakistan, not with a party or candidate

Courtesy: Dawn News

WASHINGTON: The United States has said that it wants partnership with a strong and prosperous Pakistan, not with a political party or a candidate.

At a Thursday afternoon news briefing in Washington, a spokesperson for the US Department of State also refused to guess the impact of the current political crisis on the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.

“I’m just not going to speculate on that. That is something internal to Pakistan,” said Spokesperson Vedant Patel when asked if Washington had concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

The current political situation in Pakistan often comes up for discussion at various briefings and hearings in Washington, including at the White House, Congress, the State Department, and the think-tanks.

State Department refuses to guess impact of political crisis on safety of N-assets

On Thursday, it was also raised at a briefing at the IMF where Spokesperson Julie Kozack was asked if the IMF was worried about the impact of the crisis on the country’s already ailing economy.

At the State Department briefing, Mr Patel was asked specifically about attacks on military offices and homes earlier this week. “We continue to monitor the situation in Pakistan closely, and as the US has said before, we don’t have a position on one candidate or one political party versus another,” he responded.

“What our interest is, is a safe and secure, prosperous Pakistan. That is in the interest of the US-Pakistan relations,” he said.

Responding to another question about restoring internet services in Pakistan, which were closed earlier this week, the US official recalled that Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke about this issue at a recent briefing.

The internet, he said, was also needed to “communicate with one another, to make informed decisions, to hold government officials accountable, and to exercise their freedom of expression”.

Mr Patel disagreed with a journalist who suggested that the US was reluctant to take a stand on the dispute between the Pakistan government and Imran Khan.

“I would reject the premise of your question,” he said. “That is true, we do not have a favoured candidate or a favoured political party, not just in Pakistan but as it relates to any government system around the world.”

Referring to similar briefings at the White House, Mr Patel said his colleagues at the White House were right that “a prosperous and strong, democratic Pakistan is critical to US interests. That remains unchanged”.

But in some of these areas, such as press freedom, human rights, “we have consistently raised these issues with our counterparts not just in Pakistan but in other countries” as well, he added.

In Pakistan, “the United States is … looking to continue to strengthen economic ties between our two countries by expanding private sector trade and investment,” Mr Patel said.

“There’s also an important security collaboration and areas of collaboration on renewable energy, addressing the climate crisis, increasing agricultural trade, and a number of areas.”

Responding to a question about Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan, Mr Patel said that “Pakistan continues to be an important partner in the region — an important trade partner, an important security partner”.

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