US plays no role in ‘choosing’ leaders of Pakistan: State Dept

Washington: Ahead of general elections in Pakistan, the US has asserted that it plays no role in “choosing” the leaders of the country and deals with elected leaders and the government. “The United States does not play any role in choosing the leaders of Pakistan,” Matthew Miller, spokesperson of the Department of State, said.

Miller was answering a pointed question by an American Pakistani journalist, who alleged that the US brought “this old corrupt criminal leader” – referring to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif – back into Pakistan, and said the US “at least condemn the corrupt politicians.” The journalist referred to multiple reports published by a newspaper in Pakistan, which he claimed, were never challenged or condemned by the US.

“In Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, three-time prime minister – The Frontier Post had published stories about him taking money from Osama bin Laden to disrupt the Benazir government. The story was not condemned. Taking state lands – the story was not condemned or challenged in any court. Sending money internationally, basically financial money laundering thing – the story was never challenged,” he went on to list the instances.

“At least condemn that, okay, the US had no role in (cricketer turned politician, former Pakistan prime minister) Imran Khan’s removal, but at least say something about that a Panama Paper convict has come back to Pakistan,” he continued to list and then said, “American – Pakistani Americans – are upset at (US President Joe) Biden for being silent about it. They feel like you have brought this old corrupt criminal leader back into Pakistan, and are – he’s coming back to – so at least condemn the corrupt politicians,” the journalist said.

After maintaining that the United States “does not play any role in choosing the leaders of Pakistan,” Miller added, “We engage with the leadership shown by – or the leadership decided by the Pakistani people, and we will continue to engage with the Government of Pakistan on all these issues.” Pakistan is headed to the general elections scheduled to be held on February 8. After ending his self-imposed four-year exile in London, Sharif returned to Pakistan on October 21 and has been getting clean chits in case after case that was pending for many years.

Incidentally, the State Department’s comment comes at a time when Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir is on his maiden official visit to the US since assuming office in November last year.

Image courtesy of Screen grab/State Dept

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