WASHINGTON DC: Principal Deputy Spokesperson for the United States Department of State Vedant Patel on Tuesday stated that former US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad was a private citizen whose opinions did not represent Washington’s foreign policy.
During a press briefing, a Pakistani journalist asked Patel to clarify Khalilzad’s statements after the ex-ambassador was observed “advising the Pakistani government” and the Supreme Court regarding the political situation in the country.
The reporter stated that there was a general sentiment in Pakistan that Khalilzad’s statements expressed the US government’s sentiments.
The spokesperson quickly clarified that “any social media activity or comments or tweets” by the former diplomat were done in “his private capacity” as he did not speak for the administration.
The reporter then asked about Patel’s opinion about the current political chaos in Pakistan as Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah “issued death threats to former prime minister Imran Khan on public TV”.
“We have previously stated that any implication of violence, harassment, or intimidation has no place in politics,” Patel said.
He encouraged “all sides” in Pakistan to “respect the rule of law and allow the people of Pakistan to democratically determine their own country’s leadership pursuant to their own constitution and laws”.
The spokesperson maintained that it was not for him to speak or react to comments made by the interior minister.
Patel’s remarks come after Khalilzad continued to dwell on the current political situation in Pakistan, despite a Foreign Office rejoinder, as he came up with another statement last week urging the country’s civil and military leadership to change the “disastrous” course.
In a message on Twitter greeting Muslims around the world at the start of Ramazan, Khalilzad used the occasion to ask Islamic countries to reflect upon the holy month.
“In Pakistan, civil and military leaders might ponder the state of their country and the disastrous course it is on. In respect for their obligations and in the interest of their people, they should change course,” he wrote.
This was his third statement in a week on the brewing political tensions in Pakistan. Many were taken by surprise by the manner in which the former US diplomat was taking keen interest in Pakistan politics and making specific proposals.
On March 14, Khalilzad in a series of tweets had said Pakistan was facing triple crises that warranted soul searching.