White House says it is watching Pakistan events 'with concern'

US National Security Council (NSC) Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, on 26 July, 2023Reuters

The United States is watching "with concern" events in Pakistan, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told a briefing on Wednesday.

Kirby made his remarks after being asked about the situation in Pakistan, where former Prime Minister Imran Khan was recently imprisoned and there has been a spike in militant attacks.

"We're obviously concerned about any actions, particularly violent actions, that can contribute to instability in Pakistan or frankly any other country with whom we share a set of common interests when it comes to counterterrorism, so we're watching it with concern, " he said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said he would advise the president to dissolve parliament late on Wednesday, setting the stage for a national election as the country grapples with political and economic crises.

Islamist militants, who aim to overthrow the Pakistani government and install their own brand of strict Islamic law in the predominantly Muslim country of 220 million people, have been active in recent months. They have stepped up attacks since revoking a ceasefire agreement with the government in late 2022.

"Pakistan is a partner, particularly when it comes to the counterterrorism threat in that part of the world. And we have every expectation that they will remain so, " Kirby said.

The State Department said on Monday that the arrest of Khan, a critic of the United States, was an internal matter and declined to take a position on his legal troubles.