The US State Department has been urging the Pakistani government to remove Imran Khan as the country’s prime minister for his neutrality in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. A meeting between Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and two US State Department officials on March 7, 2022, has been the subject of intense scrutiny, controversy, and speculation in Pakistan for the past year and a half.
The political conflict escalated on August 5 when Khan was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges. However, Khan’s supporters have dismissed the allegations as baseless. The decision announced by the court has also barred Khan from contesting elections in Pakistan later this year. A month after Pakistani government documents revealed meetings with US officials, a no-confidence vote in parliament resulted in Khan’s ouster. It is believed that the vote held in the Pakistani Parliament has the support of the Pakistan Army.
Since his ouster, Khan and his supporters have been involved in a conflict with the military and its civilian allies, whom the former Pakistani prime minister planned to remove from power at the request of the United States. In March last year, Pakistan’s then-Prime Minister Imran Khan alleged a “foreign conspiracy” to oust him. He waved a “letter” at a public rally, saying that there was a foreign conspiracy to oust him. He sought to link the opposition’s no-confidence motion to “foreign-funded” moves to topple his government.
The text of the Pakistani cable, known as a “cypher”, prepared from the meeting by the ambassador and transmitted to Pakistan, revealed the methods used by the US State Department against Khan, including the warmer relations with Islamabad promised upon his removal. And if he wasn’t, then isolation. The document contains the carrots and sticks used by the US State Department in its efforts against then-Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan. According to The Intercept Report, the dynamics of Pakistan-US relations outlined in the cable were revealed by later events.
In the cable, America objected to Imran Khan’s foreign policy regarding the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Imran Khan’s stance on Ukraine after stepping down was immediately reversed. A diplomatic meeting between US State Department officials and the Pakistani government took place two weeks after the start of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine when Khan was on his way to Moscow. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Imran Khan’s visit to Russia has angered America.
Just days before the meeting, on March 2, 2022, Lou was questioned at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the neutral stance adopted by Pakistan and other countries on the Ukraine conflict. Lu expressed American displeasure over Pakistan’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict at the meeting. He likes the US National Security Council. On the issue of the no-confidence vote, Donald Lu said, “I think that if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister is successful, then everyone in Washington will be forgiven because the Russia trip was seen as a decision by the Prime Minister.” He warned that Pakistan would be marginalized by its Western allies if the situation was not resolved. He said that he doubts how it will be seen by Europe, but he doubts their reaction will be the same.
A day after the meeting, a procedural step was taken towards Imran Khan’s no-confidence vote in Parliament on March 8, 2022. The US State Department first denied and has repeatedly denied that Lu urged the Pakistani government to remove Khan as prime minister.