Pakistan PM Imran Khan remains defiant, refuses to resign; blames 'foreign conspiracy' behind opposition's bid to oust him
The purported letter, earlier shown to select senior Pakistani journalists, is reportedly a strong-worded candid assessment by a senior US official who said the improvement in US-Pakistan ties wasn’t possible under the present government
Pakistan’s embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday refused to resign, a day after his government lost the majority in the house, and termed the opposition bid to oust him a “foreign conspiracy,” as his government followed an independent foreign policy.
In his televised address to the nation, an emotionally charged Khan also referred to the letter written by the Pakistan envoy to the US, alleging it as evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust him. He also said the nation will not “forget” and “forgive” dissident lawmakers and opposition leaders.
Significantly, he first named the United States and then said it was a Western country in what appears a slip of tongue. He called all those voting against him “traitors.”
Referring to the alleged letter, Khan said the foreign official knew that a no-confidence motion would be tabled in Parliament even before the opposition tabled the motion in Parliament, suggesting “the opposition was in touch with them.”
“But what is most disturbing is that our people, who are sitting here, are in contact with foreign powers,” he said, referring to three opposition leaders who have joined hands to unseat him.
Significantly, the session of the National Assembly was adjourned till Monday—for the third time since the no-confidence motion was moved against the government—and the voting has now been scheduled on Monday. A total of 174 lawmakers from the opposition camp, two more the required 172, attended the session.
However, members still loyal to the government didn’t attend the session.
Earlier on Thursday, Khan chaired the meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) with the country’s top security officials and discussed the “threat” in the alleged letter. Soon after the meeting, the Foreign Office summoned the top US envoy in Islamabad, reportedly to lodge a formal protest in relation to the alleged threatening communication.
A new US ambassador to Islamabad is still not in place since the Biden Administration came to power.
The government, media reports said, will also raise the matter in Washington through proper channels.
The purported letter, earlier shown to select senior Pakistani journalists, is reportedly a strong-worded candid assessment by a senior US official who said the improvement in US-Pakistan ties wasn’t possible under the present government.
Although the language of the letter appeared “undiplomatic” to many journalists who have seen the letter, there was nothing to suggest any attempt to change the government in Pakistan.
Khan, who came to power in 2018 on an anti-corruption plank, has emerged as one of the most critical anti-American prime ministers in recent decades. Throughout his tenure in power, Khan minced no words in criticizing US policy —something he also repeated in his speech on Thursday—in the region while his country remained a major non-NATO ally of Washington.
Referring to past drone strikes in Pakistan, Khan blamed past leaders, claiming they failed to stand for the country’s national interests. Significantly, US President Joe Biden, despite being in office for over a year now, hasn’t talked to Khan, which hasn’t got down well with his government.