NSC reiterates PTI govt not ousted through foreign plot

Published April 23, 2022
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presides over the NSC meeting at PM House on Friday.—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presides over the NSC meeting at PM House on Friday.—White Star

• Committee, however, agrees with assertion in previous communiqué about US interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs
• Former FM says meeting endorses Imran Khan’s position

ISLAMABAD: The National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday dismissed the allegation that the PTI government was ousted through a foreign conspiracy.

“The NSC, after reviewing the contents of the communication, the assessments received, and the conclusions presented by the security agencies, concludes that there has been no foreign conspiracy,” the PM Office said in a statement.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired the meeting that was held to discuss ex-PM Imran Khan’s allegation that the United States conspired with local politicians to remove him from office.

The accusation was based on a diplomatic cable received from Washington on March 7 in which it was stated that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu had told Pakistan’s ambassador that there could be implications for bilateral ties if Mr Khan survived the vote of no confidence.

Mr Khan took the message as a threat. He has since then tried to rally public support in his favour on the pretext that the US dislodged his government for pursuing an independent foreign policy and developing ties with Russia.

Asad Majeed, who was then ambassador in Washington, also testified before the committee.

The NSC’s conclusion that there was no foreign plot against the former government was based on the analysis of the content of the cable and the input received from intelligence agencies, besides Mr Majeed’s testimony.

This was the second NSC meeting on the same issue. Imran Khan had as the prime minister presided over the last meeting held on March 31. A statement issued after the last meeting had said the US State Department official’s remarks were tantamount to “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan” and underscored that such action was “unacceptable under any circumstances”.

Although the emphasis of the statement on the latest meeting was on the absence of any evidence of foreign conspiracy, it quietly agreed with the assertion in the previous communiqué that the US interfered in Pakistan’s internal affairs. The participants of the meeting, according to the statement, endorsed the “decisions of the last NSC meeting”.

The position taken by the NSC was in line with what ISPR Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had said at his presser last week. He also underscored that the NSC had its March 31 meeting not concluded that conspiracy had been hatched.

Friday’s NSC meeting was attended by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, and the services chiefs.

PTI response

PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in a statement, said the NSC meeting had endorsed Imran Khan’s position. He demanded formation of a judicial commission to ascertain the facts around the controversy.

“The matter should be taken up by a judicial commission for an immediate high-level inquiry so that the facts could be placed before the nation while keeping the court proceedings fully open,” he added.

Mr Qureshi said there was nothing new in today’s (Friday) NSC meeting and it conceded that not only the letter and its contents were correct but the issuance of protest letter on the issue by the PTI government in the light of the decision of the National Security Committee was also a right decision.

Meanwhile, in response to press queries regarding Amb­a­s­sador Asad Majeed’s remarks at the NSC meeting, the FO spokesperson said the envoy had briefed the meeting on the context and content of the Cypher Telegram in question, and shared his professional assessment. His briefing and assessment are accurately reflected in the statement issued at the conclusion of the NSC meeting, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2022

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