The United States had exerted pressure to remove former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2022 due to his government’s neutral policy on the Ukraine crisis, the online American magazine “The Intercept” revealed on Wednesday.
The magazine said it obtained a classified Pakistani government cable about a dialogue between Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed Khan and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu on March 7, 2022.
In the cable sent to Pakistan, Lu expressed his dissatisfaction with the foreign policy of the Pakistani government led by Khan and asserted that Pakistan would only be forgiven by the United States if the prime minister is removed through a no-confidence vote in the parliament.
“I think if the no-confidence vote against the prime minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington … Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead,” said Lu.
According to media reports, on March 27, 2022, Khan, then-Pakistani prime minister, spoke publicly about the cable at a political rally in Islamabad, accusing the United States of hatching a conspiracy to overthrow his government. Days later, Khan told reporters that the Pakistani side regarded the U.S. act as blatant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs.
On April 10, 2022, Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament, passed a no-confidence motion against Khan.
On May 9, Khan was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau under alleged charges of corruption and corrupt practices. On Aug. 5, he was sentenced to three years in prison and banned from holding any public office for five years.