US declines to speculate on coup threats WASHINGTON: The White House has said that it would not like to speculate if Pakistan was next after Turkey to have a military coup and reiterated its desire to continue a productive relationship with the country.
The possibility of a military coup in Pakistan was explored at a Washington think-tank this week and it resurfaced at the White House news briefing on Monday afternoon when an Indian journalist referred to this debate and asked if Pakistan was next.
“Well, I’m certainly not going to speculate about the political situation in another country. Obviously the United States has an important relationship with Pakistan,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
He said Pakistan and the US did “not agree on everything,” but they effectively coordinated on a variety of national security issues that were important to fighting extremists and protecting the citizens in both countries.
The official noted that the US relationship with Pakistan was different from its relationship with Turkey.
“Pakistan is not a Nato ally, but certainly the United States benefits from our ability to have a productive relationship with Pakistan, particularly as it relates to national security cooperation,” he said.
PTI leader Imran Khan’s statement earlier this week that people in Pakistan would welcome a military coup was reported prominently in the international media and some reports even accused him of endorsing a military takeover.
“People would celebrate and distribute sweets if there was a military takeover in Pakistan,” Mr Khan said at a rally in Azad Kashmir on Sunday.
Some reports noted that Mr Khan’s latest comments came just days after posters supporting a military takeover mysteriously appeared in 13 cities across Pakistan.
In a separate statement shared with Dawn, the US State Department noted that Pakistan was waging “a serious and sustained campaign” against violent extremism and had suffered greatly from terrorism.
“We believe Pakistan is taking steps to counter terrorist violence, particularly focused on groups that threaten Pakistani stability,” the State Department said.
It noted that the Pakistani military had made progress in shutting down terrorist safe havens through Zarb-i-Azb and other operations, and had restored government control to parts of Pakistan that had been used as terrorist sanctuaries for years.
“These are important and meaningful steps for Pakistan; they have contributed to our interests in the region; and they have come at significant cost, in lives lost by both Pakistani civilians and security personnel,” the State Department said.
The statement, however, pointed out that while appreciating Pakistan’s efforts in combating terrorism, the US had also been “very clear with the highest levels of the government of Pakistan that Pakistan must target all militant groups — including those that target Pakistan’s neighbours — and close all safe havens”.
“Pakistan’s leaders have assured us of their intention to do so. In this regard, we welcome Gen Raheel Sharif’s statement of July 6, in which he directed Pakistani military commanders, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies to take concrete measures to deny any militant group safe haven or the use of Pakistani soil to launch terrorist attacks in Afghanistan,” it said.
The State Department said that the long-term US interests were best served by supporting Pakistan’s efforts to combat violent extremism and build a more stable, tolerant, democratic society.
The statement acknowledged that the broad, multi-faceted partnership between the two countries allowed the US to advance shared interests with Pakistan, including in the region.
“Where we have disagreements or conflicting views, we address those directly with Pakistani authorities. We have made no secret of our concern that the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network continue to operate from Pakistani territory.”