Imran says Fox News analyst's remarks 'reaffirmation' of US conspiracy behind his ouster

Published May 2, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a workers' convention in Lahore on April 27. — AFP/File
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses a workers' convention in Lahore on April 27. — AFP/File

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday claimed that US defence analyst Dr Rebecca Grant's remarks in a Fox News show removed "all doubts" regarding his allegation that he was ousted from the prime minister's office last month through a US-sponsored "foreign conspiracy" due to his pursuance of an independent foreign policy for Pakistan.

Khan's remarks came after Dr Grant was asked in a Fox News programme what the US message to Pakistan should be. To this, she said: "Pakistan needs to support Ukraine, stop looking for deals with Russia right now, limit their involvement with China, and stop the anti-American policies that are part of the reason that Imran Khan, the prime minister, got voted out of office a couple of weeks ago.

"So, it's time to cool it on the anti-American, pro-Russia policies in Pakistan. Now is not the time."

Dr Grant is a contributor for Fox News and provides analysis on Russia's invasion of Ukraine as well as national and military-related topics. She is also the president of an independent research firm named IRIS that specialises in defence and aerospace. According to IRIS website, she has previously worked for RAND Corporation — a US government-funded think tank — and on the staff of the secretary of the US Air Force and its chief of staff.

Soon after the video made rounds on social media, Imran, in a series of tweets, claimed vindication for his stance, saying it should "remove all doubts" about why a democratically elected prime minister and his government were ousted.

He asked US President Joe Biden's administration whether it believed it had increased or decreased "anti-American" sentiment in Pakistan by indulging in what he termed as a "regime-change conspiracy".

"My question for the Biden Administration: By indulging in a regime-change conspiracy to remove a democratically elected PM of a country of over 220 [million] people to bring in a puppet PM, do you think you have lessened or increased anti-American sentiment in Pakistan?" he questioned.

"Clearly the US wants an obedient puppet as PM who will not allow Pak choice of neutrality in a European war; a PM who will be obedient to US demands; who will not sign agreements with Russia & who will downgrade our strategic [relationship] with China," Imran, who was ousted from government after losing a no-confidence vote on April 9, said.

If a Pakistani prime minister asserted the country's sovereignty and formulated an independent foreign policy, he would be removed and a "subservient, crooked PM like [Shehbaz] Sharif will be brought in", the former premier claimed.

Terming the video clip a reaffirmation of "US regime-change conspiracy", Imran said it was the chief justice of Pakistan's duty to form a commission to hold public hearings to determine who was involved in it.

Separately, in a video message, Imran said he had presented the "cable" to the nation and sent it to the chief justice, the National Assembly speaker and the president. He had made the nation aware that the government was removed through a "very big foreign conspiracy", he added.

"We told everyone that it is clear in the cable that a foreign conspiracy was hatched abroad against Pakistan's democracy and government. Our country's Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs were involved in it."

However, prominent journalists, incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other leaders of the then-opposition did not believe the PTI, he lamented.

"Later it was all proved. Everyone accepted that the cable is real," he said.

Referring to Grant's comments, Imran said the analyst had elaborated that the US "removed" Pakistan's prime minister because he was trying to formulate an independent foreign policy and remaining neutral in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Referring to his stance as the then-prime minister, he continued that he was broadening relations with China and talking about trade with Russia which would have benefitted Pakistan. Russia was ready to give Pakistan wheat and oil at 30 per cent reduced prices, he said.

"It was made clear that this is why change was brought because this [new] prime minister will follow all their instructions."

Imran claimed that PM Shehbaz would sacrifice Pakistan's interests for those of the US, limit the country's relations with China and not do any trade with Russia.

The new government had come into power because of an agenda, he alleged, iterating that Shehbaz had been "imposed because of a conspiracy". He termed the premier as "the most corrupt man whose family is facing cases [related to] Rs40 billion in NAB, FIA", adding that the court had also convicted suspects in those cases.

"They [will] listen to everything [which will be] against Pakistan's benefit like the way Pakistan participated in the war on terror. We sacrificed 80,000 of our people in the US' war, destroyed the country, got 400 drone attacks done on our people. What benefit did we get?

"We did all this for another country. We are again going down the same path. And this was why the regime change was done," he said.

The PTI chairman said that if the Supreme Court did not hold open hearings to "expose the conspiracy" no prime minister in the future would protect Pakistan.

"When these investigations are started, it will be found who committed treason with this country [and] how this mafia government registered blasphemy cases against us. They should be ashamed. In fact, treason cases should be registered against them."

He repeated his call to the nation's citizens to come out in protest on chand raat (the eve of Eid) with flags to show everyone within the country as well as people abroad that Pakistanis were "not ready to be anyone's slaves".

"All of you have to come out for Pakistan's future, an independent Pakistan. And it will be proved that this country is not ready to be anyone's slaves but Allah's," he concluded.

'Foreign conspiracy'

Imran claims that his government was sent packing and PM Shehbaz's regime was subsequently "imposed" on the country as part of a "conspiracy" hatched by the US against his insistence of having an independent foreign policy.

"This conspiracy started when the US decided to remove Imran Khan," the PTI chairman had said last week. "Their secretary, Donald Lu, came to our US ambassador and threatened him that if Imran Khan wasn't removed, Pakistan would have to face difficulties. He also said that if Imran Khan was removed by the no-confidence vote, Pakistan would be forgiven.

"They [US] knew that the corrupt mafia would seek forgiveness," Imran had said, stating that the US knew "these dacoits had money abroad. Always remember, all those leaders who have money, palaces and businesses abroad can never stand up to the US. They will always remain slaves to the US."

The former prime minister has also called for countrywide protests and a long march to the capital in the last week of May.

He had earlier elaborated that the march's purpose would be to give the US the message that Pakistan was a "free country" and urged his supporters to gather people from every village, street and locality and prepare them for the movement for "true freedom".

"I want two million people to come to Islamabad when I give the call. I want all of you to go to the people and preach to them about our movement for true freedom," Imran had said at a workers' convention in Lahore earlier last week.

For its part, the US has denied the claims of a "foreign conspiracy" being hatched to oust Imran.

Last month, US State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter said that the United States welcomed the statement issued by Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) wherein it dismissed an impression of a "foreign conspiracy" to topple the Imran-led government.

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