Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb announced on Thursday the government had decided to form an "independent" inquiry commission to probe the alleged "foreign conspiracy" that former prime minister Imran Khan has been claiming was behind the ouster of his government.
The minister told a press conference in Islamabad that the commission will “fairly decide that the narrative of foreign conspiracy was all drama and the real character behind it was Imran Khan”.
“These allegations are an attempt to cause irreparable damage to the country,” the information minister said.
Predicting the post-inquiry scenario, Aurangzeb said anyone who levelled such allegations “will be dealt as per the law” in light of the decision made by the inquiry commission.
She reiterated that the commission would be independent and its probe report would be brought before the public. "This drama should now end."
The minister said the terms of reference of the inquiry commission would be placed before the cabinet for approval in its next meeting.
Also read: PTI govt forms probe commission on ‘foreign conspiracy’
No one including Imran Khan would be able to raise an objection to the name of the commission's head, Aurangzeb added.
She accused the PTI chief and former premier of attempting to divert public attention from the alleged corruption of Farah Khan — a close friend of Imran's wife Bushra Bibi.
The minister lambasted Imran, saying the PTI-led government facilitated opening of around 34 bank accounts between 2018 and 2022, most of them in the name of Farah. "Rs 870.4 million were transferred into those accounts during the period."
The PML-N leader went on to say the PTI government "sold" Pakistan's foreign policy and invited the wrath of "friendly countries".
She said Imran would not accept the inquiry commission but "its findings will be accepted by the parliament and people of Pakistan."
The controversy surrounding the no-confidence motion against the former premier Imran Khan took a dramatic turn when the embattled PM brandished a letter at a rally on March 27 — days before his ouster — claiming it contained evidence of a "foreign conspiracy" hatched to topple his government.
Imran had kept mum about the contents of the letter when he first unveiled it but he spilled the beans days later by naming the United States when the exit of his government appeared imminent.
Imran's allegation that the US spearheaded his exit from power was based on a cable received from Pakistan's Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, in which the envoy had reported about a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu.
Majeed had reportedly said that Donald Lu warned that Imran Khan’s continuation in office, who was set to face a vote of no confidence, would have repercussions on bilateral relations. The US was said to be annoyed with Imran over his "independent foreign policy" and visit to Moscow.
The Pentagon and the State Department have repeatedly rejected the accusations, saying there was no veracity to it.
The National Security Committee (NSC), which includes all services chiefs as well as the head of Pakistan's top intelligence agency, took up the matter on March 31 with then premier Imran Khan in the chair. The forum decided to issue a "strong demarche" to a country that it did not name over what it termed as “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.
It had also termed the interference "unacceptable under any circumstances" and said the language used in the communique was undiplomatic.
While the forum had stopped short of calling the interference a conspiracy at the time, another meeting of the NSC was held on April 22 with newly elected premier Shehbaz Sharif in the chair, and which included the same military chiefs who attended the March 31 session.
During its second meeting, the NSC statement said it “reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting” and explicitly went on to add that it found no evidence of a foreign conspiracy.
PTI rejects commission
Addressing a press conference later in the day, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said the PTI had already rejected the government's commission which “would be tasked with concealing the truth”.
"PTI will only accept an independent judicial commission which will conduct an open hearing of the case," he demanded.
Chaudhry said a US defence analyst recently spoke about the conditions US imposed on Pakistan including siding with Ukraine and limiting ties with China, adding that the new government was "doing exactly the same".
Responding to the allegations against Farah Khan, the ex-minister said the government had not yet filed a case against Farah. "She will herself respond once the cases are filed."
He also castigated the information minister for holding press briefings on a daily basis without furnishing proof.
Calling PM Shehaz 'crime minister', Chaudhry said the energy crisis was a major issue but the government had not appointed an energy minister so far.
He said Imran had six public gatherings planned from May 6 to May 20, adding that the ex-PM would give a call to people to march towards Islamabad in days to come.