United States Tries to Keep Distance From Imran Khan’s Changing Statements

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Washington, DC – The United States has made it clear that it “doesn’t have a position on one political candidate of a party versus another in Pakistan and will not let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation get in the way of any bilateral relationship.” The comments were made by the deputy spokesperson of the State Department, Vedant Patel, in a press briefing when he was asked to comment on recent statements of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Mr. Khan was removed as Prime Minister in April Following a vote of no confidence in Parliament, which he has since blamed on a US-led foreign conspiracy involving his political rivals. He accused the Biden administration for his removal from the Prime Minister’s office on many occasions.

But in his recent statement, Mr. Khan said that he no longer “blamed” the US administration for removing him from power. On his visit to Moscow on the eve of the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Imran Khan said that it was “embarrassing,” adding that the trip was organized months in advance.

I raised both these questions with the deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel, but he tried to steer clear of the topic. On the question of Imran Khan’s changing statements, Mr. Patel said, “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.”

“We support the peaceful upholding of democratic, constitutional, and legal principles. And ultimately, we will not let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation get in the way of any bilateral relationship, including our valued bilateral partner with Pakistan”.

When pressed again for a reaction on Imran Khan backing away from his previous statements, Mr. Patel responded, “as we’ve previously said, there has – there is not, and there has never been a truth to these allegations, but I don’t have anything additional to offer.”

On Khan’s statement about his Moscow visit, the spokesperson said that he doesn’t have anything to offer on Khan’s recent comments.

To another question on Mr. Khan now trying to reconnect with the Biden administration, Mr. Patel said that he “didn’t have any specific meetings or calls to read out. Still, to your question, again, the US values our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan. It has always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to our interests not just in the region but also the world more broadly.”

Mr. Patel was also asked to comment on India and other countries’ abstention from voting in UNGA against Russia. He stated that since the first days of Russia’s unjustified and barbaric, and unprovoked war against Ukraine, “we have had continuous communications with our Indian counterparts about what we can do together to hold Russia accountable and to impose consequences for its brutal war.”

“The Secretary had the opportunity to host External Affairs Minister Jaishankar here several months ago. They also had a bilateral engagement on the margins of the ASEAN summit as well. And although we may sometimes vary on our policy approaches, we – the United States and India – share a commitment to upholding the rule-based international order that respects territorial integrity and sovereignty”, he observed.

Asked to comment on news reports that Turkey is pushing Russia and Ukraine for peace talks, the deputy spokesperson said, “you have seen even President Zelenskyy speak to the fact that an end to this conflict will likely need to come through discussion and diplomacy and negotiations. But we have yet to see any kind of concerted effort from the Russian Federation to do that. And so, in the interim, what we’re going to do is we’re going to continue to support our Ukrainian partners through many of the lines of efforts that I spoke about earlier – continuing to offer security assistance, continuing to offer humanitarian assistance, continuing with our allies and partners to hold the Russian Federation accountable through sanctions, through export controls, through other measures. And any effort about this should not take place without Ukraine, and our belief continues to be nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine when it comes to Russia’s brutal invasion that continues to be ongoing”.

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Jahanzaib Ali

The writer is a Washington-based journalist and author. He has been covering international politics and foreign policy issues for the last 15 years. He can be reached at [email protected] and [email protected]