US to remove Assistant Secretary of State for Central and South Asia: Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: The PTI chairman Imran Khan repeated his claims in an exclusive interview on CNN programme Connect the World and came hard on Lu while calling for his sacking and remarked, “imagine telling the ambassador of a country of 220 million people that you get rid of your prime minister”. 

He alleged that the threat had been made even before the no-confidence motion was tabled and it subsequently started a chain of events that resulted in his ouster as local abettors and conspirators joined with the claimed conspiracy. Imran blames his rivals in Pakistan also for the packing up of his government.

Asked why he did not make his claims public earlier when he was so specific about their details, he replied to have had placed the cipher, containing details of the meeting between Lu and Pakistan’s ambassador, before his cabinet, which was later presented in a meeting of the National Security Committee.

The PTI chairman was specifically asked if he had got in touch with the US President or state secretary regarding the matter but he did not give a direct answer and maintained that the NSC meeting had decided to issue a demarche and a protest was lodged with the US in Pakistan and Washington.

About Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's stance on Pak-US relations and whether Imran believed that a good bilateral relationship was in Pakistan's interest, he remarked, “I had a perfectly good relationship with the Trump administration. It's only when the Biden administration came, it coincided with what was happening in Afghanistan and for some reason, which I still don't know, they never got in touch with me”.

When the host pointed out to him that the US had rubbished the notion that it was involved in a regime change in Pakistan and asked Imran if he genuinely believed his claim of there being a foreign conspiracy to topple his government, the PTI chairman replied that the US embassy was calling and meeting disgruntled PTI members even before the meeting between Lu and Pakistan's then ambassador to the US.

Imran wondered, "what were they meeting for? They were the first ones to jump ship and they were the ones who then offered millions of dollars each to buy my other MNAs who jumped ship later on. Why would the US embassy be interested in our party backbenchers”.

The anchor ended the show with a question on whether Imran would run as a prime minister again, to which he predicted that the PTI would become the biggest party in Pakistan's history because people are so incensed and feel insulted that these “criminals” have been foisted over us ... there is anger in Pakistan ... there is anti-Americanism.

Referring to the examples of alleged US-backed regime changes in Iran and South American countries, Imran said resentment increased against the US when unpopular governments were brought to power, adding unfortunately, there is anti-Americanism right now.

The anchor asked Imran about his visit to Russia, coinciding with the announcement of their invasion of Ukraine, adding that the optics didn't and don't look good, do they and he replied, “they didn't but let me explain to you. The visit was planned a long time back and all stakeholders in Pakistan were onboard. The military wanted Russian hardware, we wanted oil, there was a gas pipeline which was being negotiated for the past six years before my government came in ... how would I have known that the day I land in Moscow, President Putin would decide to go into Ukraine.” He added that when India imports oil from Russia, there is no issue for the US and when he tried to do so, he was accused of being anti-American.

When asked whether he regretted the Russia trip, the PTI chairman said he would have regretted it if he had known about the invasion beforehand and still chosen to go ahead. Imran remarked, “I do not believe in military solutions. I have opposed all military ways of achieving political ends but I wasn't supposed to know”.

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