Updated Aug 19, 2018 07:55am

UK, Iran, US, Turkey look forward to working with Imran-led govt

Anwar Iqbal | Baqir Sajjad Syed

ISLAMABAD / WASHINGTON: Telephone calls and messages continued to pour in on Saturday to congratulate Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on his election as prime minister of Pakistan.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and senior officials of the US State Department all extended greetings to Mr Khan.

“The prime minister congratulated him on his party’s success in Pakistan’s elections and on his new position,” a Downing Street spokesperson said in a statement from London, after a telephonic conversation between PM May and PM Khan. The statement was shared with the local media by the British High Commission.

British PM and her Pakistani counterpart agree to hold meeting soon

PM May also tweeted about the conversation. “Pleased to talk to @ImranKhanPTI, Prime Minister of Pakistan. The UK and Pakistan share deep and important links. There is plenty for our two countries to work together on, not least increasing bilateral trade and mutual security issues.”

The statement quoted PM May as having noted the importance of Pakistan delivering on its commitments to strengthen institutions responsible for upholding the rule of law, and to advance the rights of women and minorities.

The two also agreed to meet soon.

In a letter addressed to PM Khan, the Iranian president expressed Tehran’s readiness to expand ties and cooperation with Islamabad.

“I sincerely congratulate on your election as the Pakistan prime minister which rose up from the will of the brave and distinguished Pakistani nation,” said President Rouhani according to the official website of the president of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The US State Department says that it recognises and welcomes Prime Minister Khan, dispelling the impression that Washington is not happy with his election.

In an earlier statement, a senior US official had hoped that the PTI government would work with the United States for translating tough issues into mutual achievements.

“We recognise and welcome the newly elected Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on taking the oath of office,” said State Department’s spokesperson Heather Nauert.

Usually, the State Department prefers to comment on such issues on a working day but Ms Heather released this statement on Saturday, hours after Mr Khan took the oath of his office.

“For over 70 years, the relationship between the United States and Pakistan has been a vital one,” she said. “The United States looks forward to working with Pakistan’s new civilian government to promote peace and prosperity in Pakistan and the region.”

In her speech at the Pakistan Embassy, Alice Wells, who heads the South Asia Bureau at the State Department, not only welcomed Imran Khan’s election but also expressed the desire to work with his government to resolve difficult issues.

Ms Wells noted that the new Pakistani leader had also recognised the importance of US-Pakistan relationship in his public statements and in his first meeting with US Embassy officials in Islamabad.

“The issues are tough, no doubt, but together, I know we can translate these shared interests into further action that achieves our mutual objectives,” she said.

She also said that now was the time to peacefully end the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan and encouraged the new Pakistani government to play a leading role in this process.

“A negotiated political settlement to the 17-year-long conflict in Afghanistan is a critical shared goal, and an area where we all would hope to see progress in the coming months,” she said. “In order to further these shared objectives, the United States relies on its relationships with the government, businesses, and people of Pakistan.”

In a similar message on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo had stressed this point and expressed the desire to work with Pakistan to “advance (the) shared goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.”

On July 27, the State Department had expressed “concerns about flaws in the pre-voting electoral process”, noting that “these included constraints placed on freedoms of expression and association” during the campaign period. The department pointed out that such practices were “at odds with Pakistani authorities’ stated goal of a fully fair and transparent election.”

President Erdogan in his letter to Prime Minister Khan wished him success, adds APP.

“I wholeheartedly believe that our relations, which take their strength from our peerless bonds of fraternity and amity, will develop even further in every field towards the welfare and prosperity of our two peoples.

“The solidarity that you have displayed and the support that you have extended to us in the recent critical period that our country has been passing through, reinforces our belief that your sapient leadership will help further advance bilateral relations between Turkey and Pakistan to new heights,” the letter read.

President Erdogan reiterated his best wishes for the welfare and well-being of the brotherly people of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018

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