President Joe Biden’s administration’s diplomats encouraged Pakistani political leaders to remove former Prime Minister Imran Khan from office after he hesitated to criticize Russia for its war against Ukraine, according to a new report on Wednesday.
Imran Khan was removed from office in April 2022 after a controversial vote of no-confidence by the Pakistani National Assembly. On March 7, 2022, officials from the Department of State met with Pakistan’s then-Ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan and encouraged Imran Khan’s removal from office after he visited Russia shortly after it began hostilities in Ukraine, according to a diplomatic cable that was published by The Intercept. (RELATED: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Arrested)
“I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington,” said Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, according to the cable. “[T]he Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister.”
Lu claimed that Imran Khan’s visit had damaged the Pakistan-U.S. bilateral relationship and that, absent Khan’s ouster, relations “will be tough going ahead,” the cable shows.
The US openly admitting to have interface in Pakistan politics directly. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/u0wjowytnT
— Survivor (@Wasim_wazir) August 9, 2023
“I think isolation of the Prime Minister will become very strong from Europe and the United States,” Lu told Asa Majheed Khan, according to the cable, and separately criticized Khan for visiting Russia “for bilateral economic reasons.”
The ambassador noted that “[Lu] could not have conveyed such a strong demarche without the express approval of the White House,” according to the cable.
The cable’s existence has been known since 2022, though had not been published in full until The Intercept’s report. On March 27, 2022, Imran Khan brandished a paper at a political rally and claimed that it proved a “plot” against him, according to Dawn.
He repeatedly blamed the United States for the no-confidence motion, according to The News, a Pakistani news organization.
Khan’s successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, acknowledged in May 2022 that the cable was authentic, but denied that Khan was removed at the behest of the United States, according to the Business Recorder.
The cable is a part of Pakistan’s long-running political and constitutional crisis since 2022, beginning with Khan’s attempt to dissolve parliament and call a general election mid-term, the New York Times reported. While on a protest march against his ousting in November 2022, he faced an assassination attempt and was shot in the leg, The Guardian reported.
Khan was also convicted of corruption charges on Aug. 5 for selling state property for personal profit while prime minister and banned from seeking public office for five years, according to Reuters. His initial arrest on those charges, on May 9, led to nationwide riots, Al Jazeera reported.
Amid Pakistan’s domestic instability, the U.S. has expressed concerns about the safety of its nuclear weapons, with President Joe Biden calling Pakistan “one of the most dangerous nations in the world,” The Guardian reported.
Pakistan is set to hold a general election within 90 days after its parliament was dissolved on Wednesday, Reuters reported.
The White House and the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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