Pakistan Claims 'Conspiracy' to Oust Imran Khan Hatched by Ex-PM Nawaz Sharif, Backed by India
15:36 GMT 31.03.2022 (Updated: 17:25 GMT 15.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Rahmat GulIn this Nov. 19, 2020 file photo, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a joint news conference with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, in Kabul, Afghanistan.
© AP Photo / Rahmat Gul
The Pakistani National Assembly, which convened on Thursday evening for a debate and voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, was adjourned until Sunday morning. The deputy speaker blamed the adjournment on the “non-serious” attitude of the lawmakers.
Pakistan’s federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry has claimed that the “conspiracy” to topple the Imran Khan government through a “no-confidence vote” was “hatched” by Nawaz Sharif, the country's ex-prime minister.
Chaudhry and the federal energy minister Hammad Azhar were briefing journalists after a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) which was convened by Khan earlier in the day.
According to Chaudhry, Khan presented a letter as “evidence” of “foreign conspiracy” to the NSC, which includes federal ministers and the Pakistani military leadership.
At a public meeting in Islamabad on 27 March, Khan even brandished the same letter to his thousands of supporters. Some Pakistani media outlets reported that the communication contained complaints against Khan’s foreign policy, as conveyed by the Biden administration to Islamabad’s envoy to Washington. However, the US State Department has rejected these reports.
“Based on the document presented in the meeting, we are forced to reach the conclusion that a foreign government has been trying to remove Prime Minister Imran Khan,” the information minister said.
“Nawaz Sharif’s meetings with Indian officials and Israeli diplomats isn’t a secret to anyone. Senior Pakistani media personnel are also part of this conspiracy,” he claimed.
“This conspiracy was hatched in the apartment of Nawaz Sharif. It was first discussed in London,” added Chaudhry.
Sharif is the founder of federal opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). While the ex-prime minister is currently in exile in London, his brother Shahbaz Sharif is leading the party. Shahbaz is the Leader of Opposition and tabled the no-confidence motion against Khan on 28 March. The PML (N) introduced the motion in the National Assembly on 8 March.
A court in Pakistan sentenced Nawaz to a 10-year jail term in a 2018 on corruption charges, a verdict delivered in absentia.
Chaudhry rejected speculation that Khan would step down on his volition, stating that the cricketer-turned-politician would “fight till the last delivery”.
The minister claimed that the “political conspiracy” was meant to effect a change in Pakistan’s “independent foreign policy”.
“This political fight isn’t only Imran Khan’s. It is a fight of the Pakistani people, it is a fight to keep Pakistan’s sovereignty intact. It is a fight for freedom. When a free country like Pakistan takes an independent stand, then the price has to be paid by those in power,” Chaudhry stated.
He labelled the political opponents of Khan backing the no-confidence motion as “pawns” of the foreign government.
9 December 2021, 12:33 GMT
Energy minister Azhar reckoned that the whole episode was tantamount to “change the government in Pakistan through foreign interference”.
“The means to change the government discussed in this communication was ultimately adopted to remove Khan from power,” he said.
“While the no-confidence motion has been mentioned in the letter several times, the motion wasn’t even introduced in the National Assembly at the time,” added Azhar.
He also hailed Pakistan’s “independent foreign policy” under Khan, saying that those who had “conceived the conspiracy” knew that Islamabad’s external policies would change should Khan be removed from power.
Amid the ongoing political crisis, Prime Minister Khan’s government suffered a major setback after its ally Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) withdrew its support for the government on 30 March.
Currently, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party enjoys the support of 164 Members of National Assembly (MNAs). The major opposition parties, including PML (N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) among others, have a combined strength of 177 lawmakers.