FeaturedNationalVOLUME 17 ISSUE # 20

Mounting US meddling in Pakistan

Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the US of masterminding the opposition’s no-confidence motion to remove him from power. It is not clear whether the opposition knew about the US plot or played into its hand unintentionally, but most Pakistanis are aware of its tactics. It treats Pakistan like an enemy but wants it to behave like a slave. It has also made many successful attempts to change governments in Pakistan and the rest of the world, whenever it felt the need according to its international plans. However, the time has changed now.

The public sentiments are highly against the US recently after it fiercely opposed Pakistan in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), resisted an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout package for it and many Pakistanis believe its “harsh” conditions were because of the US; it openly criticised Pakistan’s participation in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and always accused Pakistan of playing a “double game” and not doing enough to protect its interests. When Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the US of blatantly interfering in Pakistan’s domestic politics and life threats to him through a letter, it was not surprising for many people in Pakistan. The US was not happy when Imran Khan had visited Russia in February. In a rare move, foreign envoys in Pakistan urged the country to condemn Russian invasion of Ukraine in the UNGA session. The undiplomatic demand was made in a joint letter written to Pakistan by heads of various foreign missions in the country, including Germany and France. Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the demand was against diplomatic norms. It also angered Prime Minister Imran Khan who asked the envoys whether they had written a similar letter to India. It clearly perturbed the US and its allies and Pakistanis knew their reaction was on the way.

According to Prime Minister Imran Khan, the threatening message was sent by US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu in a meeting with Pakistan’s Ambassador Asad Majeed. The US State Department and White House rejected the allegations. However, Pakistan’s National Security Committee decided to issue a “strong demarche” to a country, which it did not name, over a “threat letter,” terming it “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”. The NSC, which is the highest forum for coordination on security issues, was chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and attended by the military leadership and ministers. According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, NSA Moeed Yusuf briefed the committee about the “formal communication of a senior official of a foreign country” to Pakistan’s ambassador in that country in a formal meeting which was subsequently conveyed. “The committee expressed grave concern at the communication, terming the language used by the foreign official undiplomatic,” the statement said, adding that the meeting concluded that it amounted to “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan by the country in question”. It termed the interference “unacceptable under any circumstances”. “The committee decided that Pakistan will issue a strong demarche to the country in question both in Islamabad and in the country’s capital through proper channels in keeping with diplomatic norms,” the statement added. It is clear that the “letter” and threats were not fake and the participants in the NSC meeting considered them genuine, otherwise they would not have agreed to send “a strong demarche” to the country.

It is a fact that US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs has reached a point, where many Pakistanis believe the “friendly” country has undermined the sovereignty of their homeland, which has been a frontline state in its so-called war on terror until recently. People in Pakistan have reasons to believe that the US masterminds regime change in Pakistan, when and where required. It is not by chance that governments were toppled in Pakistan when the US needed a ruler of its choice in the country to advance its agenda after some domestic or international crisis.

Meanwhile, it is also not a coincidence that the US has opened floodgates of economic aid to Pakistan when there was a ruler of its choice in the country, but imposed sanctions on it when there was a government it did not like. Pakistan’s history reveals that the US has encouraged military takeovers and then exploited the “illegitimacy” of military rulers to advance its designs in the region. It supported General Ayub to fight communism until he “unnecessarily” went to war with India in 1965. The US pushed General Ziaul Haq to overthrow Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s government and manage his judicial killing for pursuing a nuclear programme.

During the Zia period, the US officially promoted “jihad” to fight Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. US funding for arming and training Afghan and Pakistani youths for jihad led to the creation of many terrorist groups. Had the US left Pakistan and Afghanistan alone, the menace would not have been staring at the world. Genuine Afghan fighters would have forced the Soviet troops to leave the country even if no country had helped them. US interference only compounded the problem for itself, Pakistan and the whole world.

However, only the US could not be blamed for repeated interference in Pakistan. All political parties are equally responsible for it, as they look to the US for coming to power and regime change in Pakistan. It has seriously jeopardized the sovereignty of Pakistan, which has to bear the brunt of failed US policies in the region. The problems of Pakistan can be resolved only if the political parties promote democracy in their ranks and look to the people for coming to power. It is also a fact that Pakistan is a different country today and the US cannot dictate it.