WASHINGTON: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s conspiracy claims are ‘very disturbing,’ says a US State Department official while underlining Wash­ington’s desire to rebuild a strong partnership with Pakistan.

Addressing a convention of Pakistani physicians in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Director Pakistan Desk Neil W. Hop described US-Pakis­tan relations as “a partnership we cannot do without”.

“We have to work with Pakistan in tackling global affairs. It is a partnership that is essential for us,” he said.

Mr Hop said that a Paki­stani delegation would visit Washington on July 25 for the largest ever health talks between the two countries.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Masood Khan said that the US-Pakistan relations had already stabilised and were “poised to become even better” in the near future.

A former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Jalil Abbas Jilani, however, acknowledged that relations were passing through a difficult phase and suggested “the revival of structured high-level dialogue” to keep the partnership on track.

Ambassador Khan suggested strong commercial ties between the two countries, reminding American investors that “Pakistan has a large and vibrant Middle class and offers great opportunities for investment.”

Responding to a question about former prime minister Imran Khan’s claim of alleged US interference in Pakistan’s domestic politics, Hop said: “It’s very disturbing. There’s absolutely no truth in those allegations. We support a strong, democratic setup in Pakistan. We have no interests in its domestic politics.”

Jilani said the entire episode was very tragic, adding that he has had personal relations with the US official, Donald Lu, implicated in this alleged conspiracy. “He has positive feelings for Pakistan and has rejected involvement in any conspiracy,” he said.

Hop too called Lu a thorough “professional who cannot make such statements.”

Jilani suggested tackling this and other similar issues “in a discreet and dispassionate fashion”.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2022

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