A US-based news outlet has published alleged details of a secret diplomatic cable indicating the US administration’s desire to remove former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan from power in 2022. Khan, who was ousted from office after losing a no-confidence vote, claims the “cypher” confirms a conspiracy involving the US, his political opponents, and the Pakistani military to remove him. Khan initially accused the US but later aimed for improved relations. He alleges his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, and the military orchestrated his removal. Khan, currently serving a sentence for corruption, denies the charges.
The Intercept news website released purported information from a conversation between Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, and Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs. The conversation, held less than two weeks after Khan’s visit to Moscow during Russia’s Ukraine invasion, reportedly expressed concern over Pakistan’s stance on the Ukraine conflict.
Lu allegedly stated that if a no-confidence vote succeeded, Washington would forgive Khan’s Russia visit. The conversation’s details were sent to Islamabad in a “cypher.” Around a month later, a no-confidence vote led to Khan’s removal. The US State Department dismissed claims of interference and expressed concerns about Khan’s Russia visit but denied a stance on Pakistan’s leadership.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry hasn’t commented on the report, while Rana Sanaullah, the former interior minister, dismissed it as requiring further investigation. A former Pakistani diplomat suggested the leaked conversation focused on internal policies, and a spokesman for Khan’s party said the report supports Khan’s claims of interference and the subsequent National Security Committee decisions.
Sources: Al Jazeera, The Intercept