Shehbaz Sharif's message to US: 'Constructive, positive engagement'
Former prime minister Imran Khan did not ever receive a phone call from US president Joe Biden.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's office has said the new government wishes to engage with the US to promote shared goals of peace, security and development in the region, after three years of the volatile relationship between the US and Pakistan, under former prime minister Imran Khan's rule. According to Pakistani media, the statement from Shehbaz Sharif's office came in response to the White House statement on the charge of guards in Pakistan.
“The new government wishes to constructively and positively engage with the US to promote shared goals of peace, security and development in the region,” the statement read.
After Joe Biden became the US President in 2021, Imran Khan never received a call from the US president in the last 16 months. The US-Pakistan relationship touched the bottom with Imran Khan accusing the US of using Pakistan for its purposes in the region. After the US pulled out its troops from Afghanistan which eventually fell into the hands of the Taliban which later formed the government in the country, Imran Khan strongly criticised the United States. "Pakistan was a hired gun for the US. We were supposed to make the US win the war in Afghanistan which we never could," Imran Khan had said during the Afghanistan turmoil.
The US-Pakistan relationship worsened with Imran Khan, at the last phase of his tenure, alleged US hand in the no-confidence motion. He also said that the US did not like his Moscow visit amid the Russia-Ukraine war and that's why wanted to topple his government. The White House strongly dismissed such claims.
After Shehbaz Sharif was sworn in as the prime minister, the White House said it values 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,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Will Biden call Sharif now? The spokesperson said she can't predict that. “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.
Shehbaz Shari has spoken to the Charge d’ Affaires of China, Pang Chunxue, and affirmed his government's commitment to the ongoing economic projects.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is now an isolated figure in the international scenario with worldwide sanctions on him because of Russia's attack on Ukraine, issued a message greeting Sharif. The statement said he hoped that the new government will “contribute to further development of the Pakistan-Russia cooperation and partner interaction on the Afghan settlement as well as countering international terrorism.”
PM Modi congratulated Sharif and said India desired peace and stability in the region. Sharif replied to the message and said Pakistan too desires peaceful and cooperative ties with India.