Russia backs Imran’s ‘foreign plot’ claim

Moscow accuses Washington of ‘shameless interference’ in internal affairs of Islamabad


Our Correspondent April 05, 2022
Vladimir Putin and Imran Khan shake hands during a meeting in Moscow. PHOTO: AFP

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ISLAMABAD:

While Pakistan's authorities concerned are far from convinced with allegations of a "foreign plot" against Prime Minister Imran Khan, Russia on Tuesday said the ongoing political developments "leaves no doubt" that the US intended to punish the "disobedient" PTI chief.

Amid the political turmoil in Pakistan, a statement issued by the Russian foreign office criticised the US for being involved in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Pakistani premier, stating that the opposition was colluding with the Western superpower.

The deputy speaker of the National Assembly rejected the vote on no-trust motion on Sunday, endorsing the government's claim that opposition's was conspiring with a "foreign power" against the prime minister.

His controversial ruling has triggered a political and constitutional crisis and the matter is before the Supreme Court to decide its legality.

Opposition parties have dismissed allegations of foreign conspiracy all along and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday asked the army chief and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general to clarify their stance.

He asked them to make it public if there was evidence of opposition's involvement in any conspiracy.

While the opposition may have dismissed allegations of any foul play, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova, in her statement, accused the US of “shameless interference” in the internal affairs of Pakistan for its own “selfish purposes”.

She claimed that PM Imran’s visit to Moscow on February 23 was a precursor to the motion of no-confidence tabled against him in the National Assembly.

Read SC ignores PPP’s full court plea

The statement cited the ruling PTI’s claim that US Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu called upon Pakistani diplomat in Washington Asad Majeed to “condemn the balanced reaction of the Pakistani leadership to the events in Ukraine” as evidence of US involvement.

Russia accused the US and it western counterparts of exerting “rude pressure” on PM Imran and demanding ultimatums.

“They made it clear that partnerships with the US are possible only if Imran is removed from power,” the statement read, adding that foreign funds were used to bribe dissenting party members.

The Russian foreign office maintained that the premier had “repeatedly stated that the conspiracy against him was inspired and financed from abroad” adding that, “we hope that Pakistani voters will be informed about these circumstances when they come to the elections, which should be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly.”

The statement from the Russian ministry comes in light of the dismissal of the motion of no-confidence against PM Imran, which was to be voted upon on April 3.

On account of the ruling party’s claim that the motion was a foreign funded conspiracy, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri dismissed the motion under Article 5 and the NA was dissolved by President Dr Arif Alvi on the advice of the prime minister.

Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday claimed that the primary cause of anxiety in the Pakistani society stemmed from “external interference” in the country’s internal affairs.

Read more PM Imran playing ‘US card’ to build up his support base: ex-American official

He added that the National Security Committee (NSC) had reported foreign interference and deemed it inappropriate.

 “At the direction of the NSC, we summoned a diplomat to the Foreign Office to issue a demarche,” Qureshi stated, confirming that the government had recorded the protest through the ambassador in Washington.

On March 27, the premier in his speech at a public rally had claimed that there was a “foreign-funded plot” being hatched against his government. He showed a letter as evidence of the existence of the conspiracy aimed at toppling his government. However, he did not divulge the letter’s contents.

Security officials privately insist the military leadership have not seen any evidence of foreign plot against the prime minister.

An official with the knowledge of the development on Tuesday told Reuters that intelligence had found no credible evidence to endorse the prime minister’s complaint of a foreign conspiracy.

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