Pakistan seeks to improve US relations despite Khan 'conspiracy'

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan alleged that the US seeks to oust him from power in what he called a "foreign conspiracy."

 Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021 (photo credit: Saiyna Bashir/REUTERS)
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during an interview with Reuters in Islamabad, Pakistan June 4, 2021
(photo credit: Saiyna Bashir/REUTERS)

Pakistan's army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday his country sought to expand its relationship with Washington, a day after Islamabad protested to the US embassy over alleged interference in its internal affairs.

"We share a long history of excellent and strategic relationship with the United States, which remains our largest export market," Bajwa told a security conference in Islamabad.

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan had said on Friday that Islamabad had given a protest note to the American embassy over what he described as a foreign conspiracy to oust him from power.

Khan reiterated those claims on Saturday, saying that the move to remove him was an attempt at regime change backed by the United States. Khan told a group of foreign journalists that "the move to oust me is (a) blatant interference in domestic politics by the United States."

Faced with a tight no-confidence vote on Sunday that could see Khan ousted after defections from his ruling coalition, he has been alleging in his campaign to remain in power that a foreign-funded conspiracy was backing his ouster after he visited Moscow in February.

 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (not pictured) on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, US on September 23, 2021 (credit: VIA REUTERS) US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (not pictured) on the sidelines of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York, US on September 23, 2021 (credit: VIA REUTERS)

Also highlighting close diplomatic and business relationships with longtime ally China, Bajwa added: "We seek to expand and broaden our ties with both countries without impacting our relations with the other."

Bajwa said Pakistan was deeply concerned over the conflict in Ukraine, adding his country also enjoyed longstanding relations with Russia, but "despite legitimate concerns by Russia, its aggression against the smaller countries can't be condoned."

Khan met Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Moscow on the day Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.

The US embassy in Islamabad did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The White House has denied that the United States had been seeking to remove Khan from power.