Pakistan Prime Minister Blames US for No-Confidence Motion
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday said that the United States was behind a move to remove him from office.
The lower house of Parliament is scheduled to vote on a no-confidence motion on Sunday, and observers believe Khan might lose.
The United States was interfering in domestic politics by trying to remove him from office, he told foreign journalists.
Pakistan’s powerful military is also at odds with Khan, who clashed with senior generals earlier this year over promotions.
A day after Khan protested to the US embassy over alleged interference in its internal affairs, Pakistan’s army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said Saturday that his country wished to expand its relationship with the United States.
The US State Department has obviously denied the claims by Khan that it is seeking to oust his government.
During his televised address on Thursday, Khan declared that the United States was behind a threatening letter after key allies allegedly deserted him. Even though he has yet to release the document, he said it was evidence of a “US conspiracy” against him.
Interference is “Unacceptable”
In the meantime, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry has said that “requisite steps have been taken” and its National Security Committee, which includes both civilian and military leaders, has labeled the alleged interference as “unacceptable.”
Khan said in his speech on Thursday: An apparent attack on the prime minister is actually an attack on the nation as a whole.
In response, State Department spokesman Ned Price naturally said that the allegations weren’t true. “We closely follow developments in Pakistan, and we respect and support the process of Pakistan’s constitution and rule of law,” he said.
The former cricketer is trying to regain support after local media reported that 196 lawmakers had joined his opponents. This is well above the 172 needed to vote him out of the National Assembly.
If Khan is voted out, the opposition has nominated Shehbaz Sharif, brother of the exiled former leader Nawaz Sharif, to lead the next coalition government.
Professor Zafar Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad said the prime minister is shifting responsibility. The argument may be a political one contributing to Khan’s popularity among anti-Americans in the country.”
Massive Inflation in Pakistan
Khan’s support has slid in recent months as he struggles with Asia’s second-highest inflation rate and rising tensions with the military, which remains a powerful force in Pakistani politics.
In December, the prime minister declined an invitation to Joe Biden’s democracy summit and praised the Taliban’s victory in Afghanistan. There hasn’t been any actual communication between the two leaders.
Khan has also enhanced ties with China and Russia – even meeting with Vladimir Putin in Moscow just hours after sending troops into Ukraine. Shehbaz Sharif has promised to improve ties with the US and European Union if he wins.
Pakistan’s markets are being roiled by political unrest. Economic analysts say the government may be hindered in securing the release of loan installments from the International Monetary Fund due to the conflict. The rupee has also hit a record low against the dollar.
Pakistan’s military, once a top recipient of American arms, has also sought a more balanced approach after becoming increasingly dependent on China for weapons.
Khan had a clash with top generals after publicly disagreeing with the army chief over a key promotion, undermining a relationship that was crucial to his survival.
Politicians opposed to Khan have criticized him for blaming the United States.
There is no game here. This is not cricket,” said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, co-chairman of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party. “We must focus on Pakistan first and put an end to such schoolyard tactics.”