Khan is using ‘US card’ for political gains, says ex-White House official

Lisa Curtis fears that Khan’s narrative could whip up anti-American sentiments in Pakistan

Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political party, chant slogans in support of Prime Minister Imran Khan, outside parliament building Islamabad, Pakistan April 3, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI:

A senior American foreign policy and national security expert believes Imran Khan, who has accused the United States of plotting to topple his government, is trying to play the “US card” to build up his support base.

“It’s highly unlikely that any US official would get involved in Pakistan’s internal politics. I think Imran Khan is trying to play the ‘US card’ to build up support from his base,” said Lisa Curtis, who served in the administrations of former US presidents Bush and Trump.

Khan, who has been de-notified as prime minister after the president dissolved the National Assembly on his advice, claims that the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him was in fact a US attempt at “regime change” in Pakistan.

Also read: 'No evidence of foreign conspiracy against PM Imran found'

Khan alleges that a senior US administration official had threatened Pakistan of “consequences” if the no-confidence motion against him failed because the US wants to see his back for defying the West and undertaking Russia visit.

“It’s highly highly unlikely that any US official would get involved in [Pakistan’s internal matters] any way… US officials are very careful to stay out of the country’s internal politics so this is something that Imran Khan has concocted to build up his support from his base,” Curtis told VOA Deewa in an interview.

Curtis has over 20 years of service in the US government, including at the NSC, CIA, State Department, and Capitol Hill. Curtis fears that Imran’s narrative could whip up anti-American sentiments in Pakistan.

“Imran Khan is trying to drag the US into [internal politics] and get them [his supporters] interested in backing him by raising this conspiracy theory that the US is seeking regime change in Pakistan,” she added.

Also read: PM urges opposition to accept snap polls offer instead of supporting ‘foreign plot’

She also said that the Biden administration has been trying to work with Pakistan on various issues, including on Afghanistan but “there is absolutely no reason for the US to seek regime change in Pakistan”.

The US, she said, is not concerned about the change in the civilian set-up in Pakistan as “any change in the civilian political system really has a very marginal effect on the issues that the US cares the most about”.

“Relations with India, China and Pakistan’s nuclear programme are the matters that fall within the purview of the establishment,” said Curtis, who is now a senior fellow at the Centre for a New American Security.

“The US government wants good relations with whatever government is in Pakistan... the political situation of Pakistan has nothing to with the US,” she further claimed.

Commenting on Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent statement in which he stressed the need for better ties with the US and reiterated that Pakistan does not believe in camp politics, Curtis said that Pakistan’s military was trying to protect bilateral ties from Pakistan’s political crisis.

 

 

 

 

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