PM reiterates allegations

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IN what some political analysts believed was the last address to the nation by the beleaguered chief executive, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated claims that the no-confidence move was linked to a ‘foreign-funded’ conspiracy aimed at toppling his government for pursuing an independent foreign policy, warning his party dissidents and political rivals that the future generations would not forgive them and their ‘handlers’.

He also categorically stated that he would not resign as is being demanded by the joint opposition, which demonstrated its strength of 175 in the National Assembly on Thursdays (more than the required 172 for adoption of the no-trust motion), adding he would fight till the last ball.

In a subtle acknowledgement of losing the majority in the National Assembly, Imran Khan tried to convey a morale boosting message to his workers and supporters that he would emerge stronger irrespective of the outcome of the Sunday’s voting in the House.

The address, originally planned for Wednesday, was keenly awaited by all and there were wild speculations as to what the Prime Minister would announce to address the prevailing political crisis.

However, almost the entire speech was devoted to the so-called ‘Lettergate’ on which the whole government team has been focusing for the last several days in a bid to deflect some of the pressure generated by the no-confidence motion.

It is a fact that the Prime Minister made no dramatic or unexpected announcement that warranted secrecy or prevented him from recording his speech.

Important speeches are always written and (in case of address to the nation) recorded to avoid any slippage of tongue as the Prime Minister committed while naming the country behind the issue of threatening letter.

This is a serious lapse devoid of diplomatic norms and could have repercussions for the bilateral relations with the said country (the United States).

Thursday’s developments clearly proved that there was half-truth in what the government has been telling to the nation on the issue of the letter and a conspiracy to oust the Prime Minister.

The opposition claimed that the ‘letter’, which was waived by the Prime Minister during his address to a rally in Islamabad on March 27, was fake despite offers by the Prime Minister to share it with the Chief Justice of Pakistan and selected journalists.

It turned out that it was not any letter by a foreign country threatening Pakistan and this is logical as nowhere in the world threats are hurled in black and white.

It is, in fact, a diplomatic cable sent by the then Ambassador of Pakistan in Washington based on his meeting with an official of the US State Department.

However, it is also a fact that the cable quoted the threats hurled by the other side and the language used is considered to be undiplomatic and interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.

It was in this backdrop that the National Security Committee, which met earlier in the day, thoroughly discussed the contents of the cable and concluded that the communication amounted to blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan by the country in question, which was unacceptable under any circumstances.

The Committee decided that Pakistan would issue a strong demarche to the country in question both in Islamabad and in the country’s capital through proper channels in keeping with diplomatic norms.

This was promptly done when the Foreign Office summoned the acting US envoy in Islamabad and a demarche handed over to him.

However, it is also a reality that such communications are part of the daily routine all over the world and are dealt with in a proper diplomatic manner and not made part of the political discourse.

There is weight in the argument being offered by the opposition that the cable was sent on March 7 and why no action was taken on it till its waiving by the Prime Minister on March 27.

The opposition believes it is a crude attempt to influence the process of no-confidence motion, which is a purely constitutional course to oust a government.

It is also evident from the official press release issued after meeting of the NSC that the forum did not accept the proposition of the government that the cable or the threat is, in any way, linked to the vote of no-confidence or the existence of any foreign-funded conspiracy to dislodge the elected government.

We believe that the issue stands resolved after handing over demarche to the acting US envoy in the light of deliberations of the NSC and it must not be pushed further as it has the potential to backfire as well.

The option of no-confidence has been on the table of the opposition for the last many months and there is nothing unusual in exercising this constitutional option to remove the government.

It is also not appropriate to dub opposition leaders as traitors as none of them ever compromised on the core national interests.

It is an open secret that Mian Nawaz Sharif was both threatened (with dire consequences) and offered a lucrative package by the United States to dissuade him from detonating Pakistan’s nuclear device in 1998 when India carried out nuclear tests for the second time but he stood firm and did what the national interests demanded.

Similarly, Benazir Bhutto brought missile technology to the country, which has assumed critical position in the delivery system for conventional and nuclear war-heads, and both Asif Ali Zardari and MNS played their part aggressively to make the concept of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a reality.

It is, in fact, during the tenure of the present government that the work on almost all CPEC-related projects slowed down and even completed projects like Islamabad airport Metro Bus project and Orange Train Lahore have not been made fully operational even after four years.

No Pakistani would differ with Imran Khan when he talks about pursuing an independent foreign policy but neutrality or independent foreign policy should not mean a massive tilt towards the other side and that too at huge economic and financial costs.

Let Foreign Office maintain a balance in relations with all countries and their job should not be made difficult by emotional outbursts or actions motivated by domestic political developments.

There is also a view point that the policy of the government to delay the process of no-trust move even at the cost of constitutional deviations did not suit the ruling party as things became complicated further for it with the passage of every day.

Now let the process culminate in a peaceful and orderly manner as chaos, instability and uncertainty is not in the interest of the country.

 

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