Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan (R) addresses his supporters during an anti-government march towards capital Islamabad, demanding early elections, in Gujranwala on November 1, 2022. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP) (Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)
The US has once again categorically dismissed former Pakistan premier Imran Khan’s allegations that Washington orchestrated a conspiracy to oust him from power and reiterated its resolve not to let “propaganda, misinformation and disinformation” affect the bilateral ties.
The sharp response from the US came on Wednesday, days after Khan said he wanted to mend relations with Washington if re-elected and no longer blames it for his removal as the Pakistan prime minister.
“As we’ve previously said, there has – there is not and there has never been a truth to these allegations, but I don’t have anything additional to offer,” US State Department’s Vedant Patel said during a press briefing, when asked to comment on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief’s apparent U-turn on the alleged conspiracy claims.
Khan, 70, who was ousted in April in a no-confidence vote had been claiming that he was the result of a conspiracy between prime minister Shehbaz Sharif and the US, a top security partner to Pakistan that has provided the country with billions of dollars in military aid.
In a recent interview with the Financial Times newspaper following an assassination attempt this month on November 3, Khan said he no longer “blamed” the US and wants a “dignified” relationship if re-elected.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s over, it’s behind me,” he told the British financial newspaper.
Khan has repeatedly claimed that Donald Lu, the top official dealing with South Asia in the US State Department, was involved in the ‘foreign conspiracy’ to topple his government.
During Wednesday’s press briefing, Patel emphasised the US viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan as critical to Washington’s interests.
“And we don’t have a position on one political candidate of a party versus another. We support the peaceful upholding of democratic, constitutional, and legal principles,” Patel said.
“Ultimately, we will not let propaganda, misinformation, and disinformation get in the way of any bilateral relationship, including our valued bilateral partner with Pakistan,” the Indian-origin spokesperson added.
On Wednesday, Khan, in another interview with France 24 news channel, said he had never backtracked from his claims of the foreign conspiracy that led to the toppling of his government.
In the latest interview, Khan said he had a cypher in which Lu told the Pakistan ambassador in Washington Asad Majeed Khan that there would be consequences if he was not ousted through the no-confidence vote.
“So, that’s exactly what I said. I never backtracked on this. The cypher exists. It was put in front of the cabinet. It was put in front of the National Security [Committee]. It is now with the chief justice where we wanted him to hold an independent inquiry,” Khan said.
The former cricketer-turned-politician had been claiming that the Opposition’s no-confidence motion against him in April this year was the result of a foreign conspiracy because of his independent foreign policy on Islamabad’s ties with countries like China and Russia and funds were being channelled from abroad to oust him from power.
Critics accuse Khan of further jeopardising the country’s economic outlook by damaging relations with the US, IMF and other international partners on whom cash-strapped Pakistan depends for financing.