Newly-elected premier responds to messages and thank global leaders for their support
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday joined Turkey and India in congratulating Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on his assumption of the Prime Minister’s Office, as the newly-elected leader thanked the global leaders for their acknowledgements.
“President [Vladimir] Putin congratulated Shahbaz Sharif on his election as Prime Minister of Pakistan, [and] expressed hope that Shahbaz Sharif’s activities will contribute to further development of Russia-Pakistan cooperation, and partner interaction on Afghanistan settlement, countering international terrorism,” read a posting on Twitter by the Russian Embassy in Pakistan.
Earlier, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had likewise congratulated Sharif in a posting on Twitter, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had called the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) president and said he was “extremely happy” about his election.
Russia’s statement is likely seen as a blow to the narrative of ousted prime minister Imran Khan, who had alleged that he was forced out through a “foreign conspiracy” prompted by his refusal to cancel a visit to Moscow ahead of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Amidst the allegations—Khan has repeatedly accused the U.S. of spearheading the “conspiracy”—Washington has largely avoided issuing any statements that could be perceived in favor or against any specific political group. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a regular press briefing that while a democratic Pakistan was critical to the interest of the U.S., it did not “support one political party over another.”
In a brief statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said Pakistan welcomed the “U.S. reaffirmation of long-standing ties with Pakistan.” It said that the new government wished to “constructively and positively” engage with the U.S. to promote shared goals of peace, security and development in the region. “We look forward to deepening this important relationship on the principles of equality, mutual interest and mutual benefit,” it added.
Earlier, in his inaugural address, Prime Minister Sharif had said that mending ties with the U.S. was among his priorities. He had also voiced distress at the “damage” that had been caused to Pakistan’s relations with its traditional allies during the rule of Imran Khan.
Separately, responding to the Indian prime minister’s congratulatory tweet, Sharif reiterated his call for peace between Pakistan and India so both countries could focus on the socio-economic development of their people. “Pakistan desires peaceful and cooperative ties with India. Peaceful settlement of outstanding disputes, including Jammu and Kashmir, is indispensable,” he added.
The newly-elected prime minister also met Charge d’Affaires of China Pang Chunxue in Islamabad, and affirmed his government’s commitment to further deepening the cooperative partnership between both countries. Expressing his government’s resolve to speed up high quality development of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor projects and make it a symbol of China-Pakistan friendship and close partnership, he underlined the importance of enhanced investment from China in industrialization, agriculture, and digital technologies.