The PTI on Wednesday censured and distanced itself from remarks by party leader Sher Afzal Marwat regarding Saudi Arabia’s alleged involvement in the toppling of former prime minister Imran Khan’s government in 2022.

At the time of his ouster from the top office, Imran had claimed that the opposition’s no-trust move was part of an alleged “foreign-funded conspiracy” hatched against his government, over his refusal to have Pakistan’s foreign policy be influenced from abroad. The PTI founder had brandished a letter at a rally on March 27, 2022 — days before his ouster — claiming it contained evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” hatched to topple his government.

The former prime minister had subsequently alleged that the US was behind his exit from power based on a cable received from then-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 Lu warned that Imran’s continuation in office, who was set to face a vote of no confidence, would have repercussions on bilateral relations. The Pentagon and the State Department have repeatedly rejected the accusations, saying there was no veracity to it.

In an interview on GTV news programme G for Gharidah a day ago, Marwat addressed the matter and said: “These are the two countries, Saudi Arabia and the United States, with whose cooperation the regime change operation took place.”

Questioned if he was also implicating the Saudi kingdom in the ouster allegation, Marwat doubled down and said: “Definitely. Saudi Arabia played the role of a conduit.”

He had also alleged that the Saudi Arabian government “serves their (the US) purposes in the region on their directions”.

The remarks had coincided with a visit by a high-level Saudi delegation led by Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.

This portion of the interview was not included in the full show uploaded to GTV news’ YouTube channel.

Marwat offered a clarification for his remarks today, saying they were based on his personal opinion. “I never claimed in my interview that this stance had any official backing of the PTI,” he added.

Responding to the matter, the PTI issued a statement saying that Marwat’s claims were “contrary to facts” and distanced itself from the allegations.

The PTI said the views presented by Marwat “do not represent the party’s stance nor does the party consider them factual in any way”.

It added that Marwat’s remarks may reflect his personal opinion, “which is not supported or approved by the leadership or workers of the PTI in any way”.

The party reiterated Pakistan’s strong relations with Saudi Arabia, adding that PTI founder Imran “highly valued” the Saudi government and its relations with the Pakistani people.

“The founding chairman … and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman have a relationship of mutual respect, trust and brotherhood.”

The PTI said it aimed to promote close cooperation and brotherhood between the two countries and had fully played its role in this regard.

“Neither Imran Khan nor PTI holds any such opinion about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” said PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari, adding that the party had “no reason whatsoever to say or believe in any kind of intervention” from the kingdom.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Asad Qaiser said Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were “united by shared values, culture, and a common vision for regional peace and prosperity”.

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