Pakistan has excellent ties with US, says General Qamar Javed Bajwa day before Imran Khan faces no-trust vote

Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Saturday said that Pakistan shares a "long and excellent" strategic relationship with the US but it does not believe in "camp politics" and the country's bilateral relations with its partners are not at the expense of its relationships with other nations.

Bajwa's comments came a day ahead of Sunday's no-trust motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan, who without naming the US directly has been claiming that the Opposition's no-confidence motion against him was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” because of his independent foreign policy.

Speaking at the Islamabad Security Dialogue, Bajwa said amid concerns about a contest between global powers, Pakistan was positioning itself as a melting pot for international economic interests by focusing on connectivity and friendship.

"Pakistan does not believe in camp politics and our bilateral relations with our partners are not at the expense of our relationships with other countries," he asserted, in reference to Islamabad's close ties with China.

Bajwa said Pakistan enjoyed a close strategic relationship with China which was demonstrated by the country's commitment towards the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), however, at the same time "equally, we share a long and excellent strategic relationship with the US which remains our largest export market".

He said Pakistan sought to broaden and expand relations with both China and the US "without impacting our relations with [either]".

In addition, relations with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Gulf countries, South East Asia and Japan were also important for Pakistan's progress, Bajwa said.

The powerful Pakistan Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. However, the military has denied meddling in the country's politics. Prime Minister Khan also denies that the army helped him win the election in 2018.

In an apparent reference to the US, Khan on Friday said a "powerful country" is angry with Pakistan because of his recent visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin.

"A county without an independent foreign policy remains unable to secure the interests of its people," he had said at the Islamabad Security Dialogue.

Bajwa at the Dialogue on Saturday also said Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be "stopped immediately".

"Despite legitimate security concerns of Russia, its aggression against a smaller country cannot be condoned," he said, adding that Pakistan has consistently called for an immediate ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and it supports immediate dialogue between all sides to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

The army chief said the conflict gave hope to smaller countries that they could still defend their territory with smaller but agile forces against aggression by a bigger country by carrying out selective modernisation of equipment.