To ousted leader Imran Khan, Pakistan’s new prime minister is simply a "slave of America” who conspired with the U.S. to remove his government and reorient the nation’s foreign policy.

Yet those close to Shehbaz Sharif, chosen by lawmakers on Monday after Khan was removed in a no-confidence vote, describe a man adept at balancing ties between powerful actors — whether it be the U.S., China, Russia or even Pakistan’s own military, which staged a coup against his brother more than two decades ago.

"Shehbaz Sharif would really like to pursue friendly relationships with all countries,” said Miftah Ismail, a former finance minister who worked with Sharif when he headed Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province. "We would love to have good relations with the U.S. and China, and of course Russia.”