We support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law: Spokesman Ned Price


WASHINGTON/ISLAMABAD  -   The United States is “closely” monitoring the situation in Pakistan and supports the country’s constitutional process, a State Department spokesman said when asked about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement that a “foreign country” was working with the opposition to oust his government.

“Well, we are closely following developments in Pakistan, and we respect (and) we support Pakistan’s constitutional process and the rule of law,” Spokesman Ned Price said in reply to a question at his daily press briefing. “But,” he added, “When it comes to those allegations, there is no truth to them.”

The same question was asked at the White House press briefing, and Communications Director Kate Bedingfield, said, “There is absolutely no truth to that allegation.” Opposition parties in the National Assembly submitted a no-confidence motion earlier this month, seeking PM Khan’s removal from power.

The Pak-US ties are put on test again amid an alleged ‘threatening letter’ which Prime Minister Imran Khan claims was designed to oust him from power. As PM Khan named the US in a slip of tongue during his televised address to the nation the other day, Washington denied the ‘conspiracy’ altogether.

Earlier, PM Khan named the US as the country behind a threatening letter he has been hyping up after key allies deserted him. The PM faces a vote of no-confidence on April 3.  He maintained it was an evidence of an “international conspiracy” to unseat him, even though he has yet to publicly release the document.

Later, the Foreign Ministry said “requisite demarches have been made” and the country’s National Security Committee, which includes top civil and military leaders, termed the alleged interference as “unacceptable.”  Diplomatic sources told The Nation that the “letter gate” had worsened the Pak-US ties. “The relationship was already in a bad position due to Pakistan’s closeness to Russia and even closer with traditional; friend China. This letter thing couldn’t come at a worse time,” said a senior diplomat.

Citing the Pak-US contacts in the aftermath, he said, the “body language” of the Americans is naturally “terrible.” Amid the Pak-US tension, PM Khan is fighting to win back support after his opponents pulled 196 lawmakers over to their side, well more than the 172 needed in the National Assembly to vote out the former cricket star.  The opposition has named Shehbaz Sharif, the brother of self-exiled former leader Nawaz Sharif, to lead the next coalition government if PM Khan is formally voted out.

Another diplomat said it will take time to cool down the US even if “we deny all the misunderstandings” because a person no less than the PM has openly accused Washington of interference in Pakistan’s internal matters.

“This is not a simple thing. We will have to work hard to normalise the situation. This issue will create issues for Pakistan,” he said citing the dominance of the US in the international financial institutions and the economically strong nations. The Pak-US ties have never been stable in the history, shifting from romances to breakups. Pakistan’s Foreign Office Thursday said the “requisite demarches have been made through diplomatic channels” as decided earlier in the National Security Committee.