Washington congratulates new PM Shehbaz Sharif, saying "we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation with Pakistan," while opposition chief Imran Khan repeats conspiracy claims before charged supporters in northern Peshawar city.
The United States has congratulated Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, newly elected following the weekend ouster of Imran Khan, who accused Washington of involvement in a conspiracy to force him from power.
"Pakistan has been an important partner on wide-ranging mutual interests for nearly 75 years and we value our relationship," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
"The United States congratulates newly-elected Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and we look forward to continuing our long-standing cooperation."
"The United States views a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan as essential for the interests of both our countries," he added.
Khan was dismissed on Sunday after losing a no-confidence vote, and Sharif was elected by Pakistan lawmakers the following day.
No prime minister has ever served a full term in Pakistan, but Khan is the first to lose office via a vote of no-confidence –– a defeat he has not taken well.
READ MORE: Tens of thousands hit Pakistani streets to protest Imran Khan's ouster
Quite a power show by PTI in #Peshawar.. considering the comparison with the previous gathering before Imran Khan was ousted from office. There were families in cars who couldn’t make it to the ground. pic.twitter.com/jEskZ1U7VU— Iftikhar Firdous (@IftikharFirdous) April 13, 2022
Sharif promises investigation
Khan insists he has been the victim of a "regime change" conspiracy involving Washington and his opponents, an accusation the United States has vehemently denied.
Khan, who has vowed to take his fight to the streets in the hope of forcing an early election, on Wednesday held his first public address since losing power, in northern Peshawar city, telling tens of thousands of supporters the "decisive moment" has come.
"Do we want to be the slaves of the US' slaves or do we want real freedom?" Dawn news website quoted him as saying.
"My fellow Pakistanis, this is my message for you, as long as this government doesn't announce elections, we will force them (government) for elections, you have to carry on protests in the streets."
New premier Sharif has promised an investigation into Khan's allegations.
"If an iota of evidence is provided against us, I will immediately resign," he told parliament.
READ MORE: Shehbaz Sharif elected Pakistan's new PM after Imran Khan's ouster
Early election a possibility?
"Certainly, Imran Khan will put constant pressure on this new government including encouraging protests and other tactics. Sharif also faces a pretty serious economic crisis as well as a resurgent terrorist threat," South Asia expert Michael Kugelman told TRT World.
"I wouldn't be surprised if this government calls an early election. The longer it's in power, the more opportunity there is for the public to channel its anger toward this new government."
READ MORE: Q&A: New Pakistan PM will be 'more receptive to conversations' with the US