Imran Khan’s dramatic ouster leaves message for many nations


According to analysts, Imran Khan’s dramatic ouster from power and his allegations of United States’ hands behind the “conspiracy” of toppling-down his government contains ingredients of fear and concern for a number of nations in the world, including South Asia.

They said, Imran Khan’s ouster from power may not be the last episode of Joe Biden’s cunning game. Instead, it is almost a beginning of many episodes. But I would like to differ from such opinion. There had not been no hands of the United States behind Imran Khan’s ouster. Instead, it was a result of internal political feud as well as role played by the mighty Pakistani army behind the fate of Khan.

Imran Khan’s allegations against the US

Commenting on the matter, Toquir Hussain, former Pakistan ambassador and diplomatic adviser to the Prime Minister said:

Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran’s allegations of a US conspiracy to oust him cannot be verified on the basis of facts, as they are not fully known.  

As a result, we have to rely on circumstantial evidence, media leaks, and speculation. But that can only take us so far. Perhaps a historical look at U.S.-Pakistan relations—particularly, how Washington has been embedded, by imposition or by invitation, in Pakistan’s body politic—can inform our understanding of the issue.

The relationship between the United States and Pakistan has served some of both countries’ critical interests for the past six decades. Over this period, they have had three major engagements, all of which were prompted by the United States’ short-term need for Pakistan’s cooperation to advance its security and strategic interests and Pakistan’s long-term need for Washington’s economic and strategic patronage. To its credit, in the first engagement during the early years of Pakistan’s history, the United States strengthened Pakistan’s defense capabilities and economic development, stabilizing the newly-established nation. But that was the last time the United States truly helped Pakistan; in subsequent engagements, the regimes in Islamabad have benefited more than the country.

Toquir Hussain further said:

While it was easy for the powerful United States to weave in and out of Pakistan, the latter became addicted to the relationship because it served more than just Pakistan’s national interests. Pakistan’s poor policy choices made it dependent on external assistance, and the United States and other benefactors took advantage of this dependency to advance their own security and strategic interests. Washington played a particularly important role in the power imbalances and structural weakness of Pakistan’s elite-based system, eventually becoming an external pillar to sustain the system. This created faulty policies on both sides.

Successive regimes in Pakistan courted America as they did their best to hold on to the relationship. Pakistani political parties are suspected to have often tried to get a sense, directly or indirectly, of Washington’s reaction to important appointments or policies in order to avoid alienating the United States. This reflects the dependency of these politicians and their eagerness not to lose Washington’s “affection” more than the United States’ stranglehold over Pakistan.

The United States did not get anything from Pakistan that its leadership did not give of its own accord, often to advance personal and class interests, but sometimes in the larger national interest. And to their credit, Pakistani leaders, civilian and military alike, also stood up to pressure from the United States when critical national interests were involved, such as in the case of Pakistan’s nuclear program or relations with China. Beyond Pakistan, the United States remains a force in the internal political dynamics of many countries. Washington tries to influence, and sometimes manipulate or coerce, leaders throughout the world. But the fact is in most countries, including Pakistan, where the United States has no sustained vital interests, it does so through its relationships with the governments in power.

In my opinion, for Joe Biden or the United States, the current need for Pakistan was neither so dire or extremely essential that it called for the drastic actions of pursuing ousting Imran Khan from the premiership. Moreover, it won’t be any advantage for the US seeing radical Islamist Muslim League or extremely corrupt Pakistan People’s Party returning to power.

Even if we hypothetically start thinking, Washington had tried to oust Imran Khan from power, such attempts were sure to be flopped as Pakistan has its own political dynamics and can withstand external pressure, if its politicians and mighty army want to. Pakistan succumbs to pressure only when the survival of the system is concerned or when the interest of the regime is at stake. For all its faults, Pakistan’s constitutional process and democratic polity work.

Despite the fact of Pakistan being known as a failed state and a country without stable democracy, it certainly has a very strong Election Commission and a neutral and powerful judiciary. The strength of Pakistani judicial system was recently observed in the Supreme Court’s decision to restore the National Assembly and the subsequent developments that resulted in the peaceful change of government. Due to these instances, individuals like Toquir Hussain can say, “Pakistan is not a banana republic, and the country has resilience”.

At the same time, given Pakistani elites’ dependency, Washington has remained confident in the past that it could always catch up with the country when it needed to, no matter what regime was in power.

Bogus allegation of the US conspiracy

In support of his claim of America’s hands behind his ouster, Imran Khan alleged that the United States conspired with the opposition to oust him through a no-confidence vote. As proof, Khan claimed that Donald Lu, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, threatened regime change in his meeting with Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States on March 7, 2022.

But no evidence of such a threat was provided by Khan, nor could it be, as it was allegedly made during a secret diplomatic conversation. All he could say was that Donald Lu used threatening language and knew about the upcoming no-confidence vote, which was moved to a day after the meeting.

In actual fact, Donald Lu may have candidly expressed the United States’ exasperation with the direction of Pakistan’s foreign policy, especially the former prime minister’s rhetoric. He probably said that while the United States was interested in having good relations with Pakistan, this was not likely to happen under Imran Khan’s leadership. And in this context, perhaps the words “no-confidence motion” were mentioned explicitly or implicitly. As it was public knowledge that such a motion was in the offing, it was not a secret whose divulgence would have betrayed American complicity.

Imran Khan’s supporters are magnifying this as an example of Khan being punished for his “independent” foreign policy. But it was not that. Does India not have an independent foreign policy and excellent relations with Washington? India, like Pakistan, received America’s displeasure over its support for Russia. If Pakistan came under greater pressure, it was because of the bad timing of Khan’s visit to Moscow and Pakistan’s dependent status.

Again, in my opinion, America’s relations with Pakistan started deteriorating ever-since Joe Biden became the president. Khan has been continuously running anti-American campaign thus causing long-term damage to the United States’ public image in Pakistan.

If Donald Lu’s comments about Imran Khan’s government during a closed-door meeting could result in his dramatic ouster, many nations in the regions should start feeling worried as similar things may repeat in the future, as well.


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