On Thursday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he had the ‘evidence’ of a ‘foreign conspiracy’ to oust his government. He hinted at the involvement of the United States in the alleged conspiracy, but later recanted his words as a “slip of the tongue.” Slip or not, the US responded and denied sending any threatening letter or official to the Pakistani government. On Wednesday, Khan’s government had said that the allegation about a foreign conspiracy was based on a diplomatic cable received during one of the country’s foreign missions abroad.
During a rally in the federal capital Islamabad, Khan said that the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him is a foreign conspiracy to topple his government because of his foreign policy. He said that the funds for his government were being cut and claimed that he had a ‘threat letter’ to prove his claim. Initially, he did not reveal anything about the threat letter but later disclosed a bit because of the critics doubting his claim. The government initially offered to share the letter with the Chief Justice of Pakistan and Khan also briefed his cabinet on the contents of the letter. Due to the bar on disclosing classified information, journalists were not allowed in the closed-door meeting and were later provided with the minutes of the meeting.
Khan had not named any government during the meeting, but the media persons were informed that a Pakistani envoy was told by a senior official of the host country that they had problems with Khan’s foreign policy, especially his recent visit to Russia on the day Kremlin launched an unprovoked attack on neighbouring Ukraine.
The cable was reportedly sent on March 7, a day before the opposition submitted the no-confidence motion and requisitioned a National Assembly session for voting on it. It was also claimed that Islamabad had received a cable from Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed regarding his meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu. Majeed was later removed from the post and replaced with Masood Khan.
Contradictory accounts of the meeting between Majeed and Lu have emerged from Islamabad and Washington. Pakistani officials are claiming that the language used by the US official was ‘unusually harsh’ but Washington denies that any threat was sent to the Pakistani government during the private talks.
Responding to Khan’s claims of a US-sponsored foreign conspiracy to oust him, a spokesperson for the US State Department had told Dawn that: “There is no truth in these allegations.”
Independent observers in Washington argue that Khan’s accusatory tone towards the US is likely to strain the relationship between the two countries.