WASHINGTON: The US State Department on Sunday reiterated its stance that there’s no truth to the claims that Washington was involved in a conspiracy to bring down the PTI government.

The controversy resurfaced on Sunday with media reports that PTI’s secretary overseas Abdullah Riar “has contacted US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu and asked him to forget the past and move forward”.

In March, former prime minister Imran Khan, while he was still in office, claimed that the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him was the result of a “foreign conspiracy” because of his external policy and funds were channeled from abroad to oust him.

Later, PTI leaders told journalists that they based their claim on a cable that former Pakistani ambassador in Washington sent to Islamabad on March 7, detailing the conspiracy. The cable included details of Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan’s meeting with Mr Lu at the Pakistan Embassy.

Dawn learned from diplomatic sources that the conversation mentioned in the cable happened at a farewell lunch by the outgoing ambassador and that the cable did not say anything about a conspiracy. Mr Lu, however, did convey the Biden administration’s ‘unhappiness’ over former PM’s visit to Moscow on the day Russia invaded Ukraine.

Mr Lu also said that this ‘unhappiness’ would continue as long as Imran Khan was in power. During the long conversation, Mr Lu also asked questions about the no-confidence movement against the PTI government as this was all over the media.

When Dawn contacted the US State Department for comments on Mr Riar’s reported contact with Mr Lu, a spokesperson said: “As a standard practice, we do not comment on private diplomatic meetings.”

On Imran Khan’s claim on the US involvement in toppling him, the spokesperson said: “As we have said before, there is no truth to these allegations.”

PTI sources in the US also refused to discuss the reported contact, while Mr Riar did not return calls or respond to messages.

Published in Dawn, July 4th, 2022

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