Pakistan summons US envoy over ‘meddling’ — Analysis

Diplomat is called to account as an assassination attempt has been discovered and no confidence vote is looming

Islamabad summoned Assistant Secretary of States Donald Lu to condemn the language of his acting US ambassador regarding the no confidence vote against PM Imran Khan. A Pakistani foreign ministry official confirmed this on Friday.

Lu allegedly told the Pakistani ambassador to the US that “Relationships with Pakistan are not improving” as long as Khan was in power. If the former cricket star was ousted in the no-confidence vote, however, the country would be “Forgiven for their mistakes,” local media reported.

Pakistan PM names ‘foreign power’ that wants him toppled

Khan’s government opted to issue a “strong demarche” to the US in return for his threatening remarks after the PM consulted with his national security committee on Thursday over the matter, which they denounced as “blatant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs” by a foreign country.

While the initial statement from the committee did not publicly reveal that the “foreign country” in question was the US, Khan let slip during a televised address that night that the “foreign country [he couldn’t]Name” was, in fact, “America.” He claimed to have received a briefing letter from the Pakistani ambassador to the US that included a recording of a senior official from Washington suggesting the relationship between the US and Pakistan would improve should Khan be toppled in the no-confidence vote. 

They say that ‘our anger will vanish if Imran Khan loses this no-confidence vote’,” Khan declared in his speech after appearing to reveal that “They” were Washington.  

While the opening debates on the no-confidence vote had been scheduled for Thursday, the deputy speaker of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party had the proceedings suspended on a technicality, meaning the next attempt to begin the process will likely take place during parliament’s next meeting on Sunday.

PTI continues to be outnumbered by many of its members who have defected from the party to join the rivals in the fight for the no-confidence vote.

Khan also claimed in a rally last week that a “foreign-backed conspiracy” was behind the move to oust him, noting that it was being financially backed by millions of dollars in foreign money and “People are used to help us..” The PM suggested it was his refusal to join the US and NATO in condemning Russia’s military operation in Ukraine that had triggered the conspiracy.

Minister claims that a plot to assassinate the Pakistani PM has been revealed

Adding credibility to his claim, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry revealed on Friday that the country’s security agencies had reported a plot to assassinate Khan, the second such claim this week. PTI leader Faisal Vawda had earlier claimed Khan’s refusal to “Sell the country” was behind the bid to have him killed. 

A combination of economic problems and recent fuel price spikes resulting from the conflict in Ukraine have led to the no confidence vote. The International Monetary Fund is uncertain whether it will issue the sixth installment of its $6 billion rescue package in 2019. Khan proposed a subsidy package to offset the effects of rising oil and gas prices. Khan claims that the subsidy payments are being paid out of existing funds.

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