Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent claim of having irrefutable written proof that “Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan,” is indeed worrisome. However, his admission that “We have been aware of this conspiracy for months,” is even more disquieting as being an issue of grave national importance with potentially perilous consequences, this issue merited immediate action. So, if what Khan is saying happens to be true, then he needs to explain why he and his government did nothing for “months” to address this serious threat to Pakistan.
According to Pakistan daily ‘The Express Tribune,’ Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has stated that the “threatening letter” [referred to by Khan in his speech] was also shared with the military leadership. If this again is true, then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa also has a lot to explain. After all, hasn’t he been saying all along that Pakistan is a victim of ‘hybrid warfare’ and hasn’t he also has assured his countrymen that his army will thwart any such design the moment it is detected. Hence, the otherwise hyperactive Rawalpindi’s inaction in dealing with what Khan claims to be a “foreign-funded plot” is rather intriguing.
Rawalpindi has declared its neutrality on the political imbroglio that has led to the opposition moving a no-confidence motion against Khan. So, if the no-confidence motion exercise is genuinely a “foreign-funded plot” to remove the government, and the military is privy to this grand conspiracy designed to harm Pakistan [as claimed by Foreign Minister Qureshi], then its refusal to intervene is tantamount to abetment and hence unpardonable. Additionally, it’s no secret that Khan owes his prime ministership to Pakistan Army, and hence, it’s extremely unlikely that Rawalpindi would allow him to be removed thus- unless he has fallen out of favour with Gen Bajwa, which is a distinct possibility, considering his snide remarks against the army chief.
Yet, all said and done, there’s something about this “foreign funded plot” that doesn’t gel. The cricketer turned prime minister claims that his refusal to allow Pakistan’s foreign policy to be influenced from abroad by foreign powers is the reason behind the sinister plot to unseat his government through a no-confidence motion. Khan may have assured his countrymen that come what may, he would ensure that Pakistan continues to follow an independent foreign policy. However, despite this brave assertion, the question that arises is- does Pakistan currently have an independent foreign policy?
One may ask, why this doubt? The answer is that it is because just three months ago, while speaking about Islamabad’s plans concerning Afghanistan, Pakistan’s NSA Moeed Yusuf had made an honest admission to the contrary. ‘Geo News’ had quoted Yusuf explaining Pakistan’s situation by mentioning how monetary loans from international financial institutions compromised “economic sovereignty … [and] …because of this, it affects a country’s foreign policy, and when foreign policy is affected, you cannot run the affairs, as they would be in an ideal situation.” So, what independent foreign policy is Khan talking about?
Even the media in Pakistan isn’t quite convinced by the prime minister’s “foreign funded plot” claim and his contention that “Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan. Our people are being used. Mostly inadvertently, but some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest.” Resultantly, despite his contention that “The letter I have is proof and I want to dare anyone who is doubting this letter…,” the media isn’t convinced.
To put things in correct perspective, “The Express Tribune’ has sought Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s response to the following three questions:
1. When did the government receive the threat, when the threat was shared with the military leadership and what was their response?
2. Why PM did not convene the meeting of the National Security Committee on the issue?
3. What action [the] government has taken after the threatening letter, has any demarche been issued to the ambassador of the country which wrote that letter, or where did the threat emanate from?
Expectedly, no reply has been received, and, in all probability, Fawad will quote the sensitive nature of the issue to avoid answering these very basic, but extremely pertinent questions.
Khan may be attempting to project himself as a patriot who is prepared to be martyred for standing up to preserve the sovereignty of his motherland. However, in doing so he is portraying his political opponents as quislings working for some foreign power, who for the sake of money and power are betraying the country, which isn’t civil or in good taste. The prime minister has also presented the army as a mute spectator to the undoing of Pakistan, something which Rawalpindi will certainly take serious umbrage to.
Replying to the prime minister’s “foreign-funded plot” in presence of PML-N Shahbaz Sharif and PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, has adroitly put the ball in the PTI chief’s court by saying, “Khan Sahab, I will support you, if foreign intervention to topple the incumbent government was proved.” With the opposition jointly daring Khan to prove his allegations, what remains to be seen is whether the former cricket captain who brought the World Cup to Pakistan can take a ‘hattrick’ or will end up getting out by ‘hit wicket’?