By Zahra Samimi
April 19, 2022 – 12:18
“It is a fact that the U.S. administration was not happy with Pakistan under Imran Khan’s leadership.”
TEHRAN – Syed Qandil Abbas, assistant professor at School of Politics and International Relations in Quaid-i-Azam University, says that Washington is said to be unhappy with Imran Khan’s policies, especially his visit to Moscow.
“The U.S. was said to be annoyed with Imran Khan over his ‘independent foreign policy’ and visit to Moscow,” Qandil Abbas tells the Tehran Times.
Khan, 69, who led the South Asian country of 220 million people for three and half years, accuses Washington of backing his removal from office because he had visited Moscow against U.S. advice. Washington has denied the charge.
Khan met Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 24, the day Russian forces invaded neighboring Ukraine.
“His allegation was based on a diplomatic cable received from Pakistan embassy in Washington in which it was reported about a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu,” Qandil Abbas notes.
“This cable had reportedly said that Donald Lu warned that Imran Khan’s continuation in office would have repercussions for bilateral relations. Khan alleged the opposition, colluded with the United States to unseat him, and declared the new setup as ‘Imported Government’,” the Pakistani professor adds.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership. What are the main reasons for such a decision?
A: According to opposition parties, a deepening economic crisis contributed to dissatisfaction with Imran Khan including double-digit inflation. However, Imran Khan and his team believe that part of the economic crisis was the situation they inherited from the previous government and another part of it was the result of COVID which influenced economies all over the world. Khan’s team is of the view that despite the disastrous COVID phenomenon, Pakistan’s economy has been well managed under Khan’s leadership.
“No prime minister has finished full constitutional five-year tenure in Pakistan’s 75-year history” Khan believes that the actual reason behind the collapse of his government is U.S. conspiracy as opposition parties colluded with the United States to unseat him because of his move towards independent foreign policy.
Q: Khan claims that Washington was behind a conspiracy to remove him from power. To what extent is this allegation true?
A: History of claims about U.S. interference in Pakistan is very long and from first to the last Prime Minister of Pakistan, U.S. conspiracies in Pakistan remained a heated debate. It is also a fact that during the last more than three years the U.S. administration was not happy with Pakistan under Imran Khan’s leadership. Particularly Khan’s antagonism to U.S.’ drones attacks in Pakistan’s tribal areas as well as American defeat in Afghanistan made the U.S. more annoyed to Pakistan. In the end, Khan’s visit to China and soon after that Russia made the U.S. and its Western allies angrier toward Imran Khan.
Imran Khan had claimed that the move to topple his government was the result of an American conspiracy. His allegation was based on a diplomatic cable received from Pakistan embassy in Washington in which it was reported about a meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu. This cable had reportedly said that Donald Lu warned that Imran Khan’s continuation in office would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The U.S. was said to be annoyed with Imran Khan over his ‘independent foreign policy’ and visit to Moscow. Khan alleged the opposition, colluded with the United States to unseat him, and declared the new setup as “Imported Government”.
Q: Apparently the Pakistani army supports close ties with America rather than Russia. Given the army’s long role in Pakistani politics, do you see any attempt by the army to remove Imran Khan?
A: Although foreign policy of Pakistan has always been considered as pro-Western and it was more highlighted when Pakistan joined SEATO and CENTO and later on the Afghan War, Pakistan was expecting that by pro-Western policy it can attract Western and American support against India but Pakistan has always been disappointed in this regard. Such disappointment is setting trends of civil and military leadership of Pakistan towards the U.S. However, domestic trends of civil-military relations are quite different because of the unique political culture of Pakistan.
Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar has recently said that the Pakistan Army has nothing to do with politics and martial law will never be imposed in Pakistan. He further added that the United States never asked for bases in Pakistan. However, if such a request had been made, it would have been rejected.
Q: How do you assess the situation of the post-Imran Khan government?
A: Imran Khan has declared the new setup as “Imported Government” and announced that his party will not accept it. He and his party members also resigned from membership of the Parliament and they have started street politics. This trend can pose serious challenges to the new government which is already confronting different and sometimes diverse strategies of allied parties. Moreover, economic issues are also very critical and the two biggest economic challenges facing Pakistan at the moment are high inflation and fast depleting foreign exchange reserves. Similarly, damage to Pakistan’s foreign policy should also be addressed by the new government.
Q: What do you think about the fate of prime ministers in Pakistan’s history?
A: No prime minister has finished full constitutional five-year tenure in Pakistan’s 75-year history and now this trend has extended with the removal of Imran Khan, who claimed that there was a U.S.-led conspiracy to remove him because of his refusal to stand with Washington on different issues. On different occasions, prime ministers have been removed under a multiple conditions, including direct military coups, corruption charges, and forced resignations due to infighting in governing groups even assassination, etc. I believe till the time Pakistan is economically weak, political instability and foreign intervention cannot be avoided.