Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby has said that the United States enjoyed a “healthy military-to-military relationship” with the Pakistan Army and hoped that this engagement will also continue in the future.

The remarks by the Pentagon spokesperson came amid an anti-US campaign by the head of the former ruling party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, after his ouster from the post of the prime minister of Pakistan.

Imran had alleged a foreign conspiracy behind his removal and the installation of the new government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The opposition and the US had both denied these accusations.

Responding to a question about the political crisis in Pakistan and the future of the US-Pakistan ties during a press conference at the Pentagon, Kirby said he would not comment on Pakistan’s internal affairs.

“We recognise that Pakistan plays a key role in the region. We recognise that Pakistan and the Pakistani people are, themselves, victims of terrorist attacks inside their own country,” he said, adding that the US has “shared interests with Pakistan with respect to security and stability in that part of the world”.

“And we do have a healthy military-to-military relationship with Pakistani armed forces. And we have every expectation that that will be able to continue to be the case,” Kirby added.

Ruling out any US military role in Pakistan, he said that America recognises that Pakistan and its people are, themselves, victims of terrorist attacks “inside their own country”.

“I don’t foresee any US military role here. And I’m certainly not going to, again, wade into internal domestic politics in Pakistan,” he told a journalist at the press briefing.

PM SHEHBAZ RESPONSE: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif welcomed the US’s “reaffirmation of long-standing ties with 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 Prime Minister’s Office said in a tweet.

“We look forward to deepening this important relationship on the principles of equality, mutual interest and mutual benefit,” the PMO added.

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