WASHINGTON: Despite coming under fire for a statement on the deepening political crisis in Islamabad, the State Depart reiterated on Thursday that the US was not involved in the process or discussions between any parties and that the US will continue working with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
During the daily briefing in Washington on Thursday, the State Department’s deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that the US was not involved in the process or discussions between the parties, even though US Ambassador in Pakistan Richard Olson had met with representatives from the opposition groups on Thursday.
“Any suggestion to the contrary [that US involved in the process or the discussion between the parties] is completely false.”
Harf though said the US believes there needs to be peaceful dialogue and that no attempts should be made to “change Pakistan’s government through extra-constitutional attempts.”
“We’re monitoring the demonstrations. Obviously, we think there should be a space in Pakistan for peaceful expression of views. So it’s something we’re looking at.”
She added that as far as the US was concerned, Nawaz Sharif was still the prime minister of Pakistan and that the US will keep working with him along with a “number of people in Pakistan as well.”
Asked about contacts between Islamabad and Washington over the current situation, Harf said that Ambassador Olson frequently meets with a range of officials. “I believe that’s where the contact has occurred.”
Olson had on Thursday met with officials from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
PTI chief Imran Khan, who confirmed that his party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi had met Olson to present their stance, had criticised the US for what he termed interference in Pakistan’s internal political matters.
Addressing his supporters gathered at D-Chowk in front of the Parliament House on Thursday evening, Imran had launched into a tirade against the US. He asked US Ambassador Olson to tell the State Department not to interfere in the internal matters of Pakistan.
“If you want Pakistan to be a friend of the US, we are willing, but please remember, a prime minister like Imran Khan can never be a stooge like Nawaz.”