Imran Khan has lost the confidence of most Pakistan’s Parliamentarians and, as per parliamentary democracy norms, will be constitutionally voted out of office on April 3rd, 2022. The Kaptaan may be unwilling to accept the reality that everyone – many Pakistanis, the opposition, the media, the courts, and the military establishment – are fed up and want him to leave office before he does any further damage.
Instead of accepting the reality, Imran Khan is alleging a foreign conspiracy “As a last ditch effort, he has brandished a “letter” from the outgoing Pakistan Ambassador to Washington, Asad Khan, to the Pakistan Foreign Office alleging that the US is “conspiring” to oust the PTI government. Imran Khan’s position on the “letter” has been deliberately ambiguous and fluid. At first he waved it dramatically in front of a charged PTI crowd, suggesting it was a formal and deadly threat by a foreign power against his government. Then he confessed that it was an internal cable from the Pakistan Ambassador in Washington based on his talks with a senior American official. Later, he revealed he had shared it with key national security stakeholders and his cabinet. Belatedly, he also agreed to brief parliament “in camera”. But he refuses to order any investigation into how and why the letter came into being or the authenticity of its content.”
Yet, Imran Khan’s ‘conspiracy’ story has been rejected by all the stakeholders. “The NSC has ordered no more than a “demarche” to the US which has officially denied any threats. Indeed, the demand for an investigation is growing because suspicions persist about the terms and conditions behind the writing of this letter. A common belief is that Asad Khan was leaned upon by the government, via the Foreign Office. to write such a letter in exchange for the posting in Brussels. That is why the government is refusing to order an investigation into Lettergate. True or not, what is certain is that the Ambassador in Brussels will be recalled by the next government in due course to explain what actually transpired.
Further, “Why did the PM sit on the letter for weeks and not take action earlier? Why did the Foreign Minister invite a senior American official to participate in the OIC moot in Islamabad and publicly express satisfaction in his meetings with the official if all was not well? Why did the PM keep changing his story about the need to keep it secret and not share it with the national security establishment and parliament if it was such a serious threat? Why should any routine exchange of views between two diplomats be flagged as an existential threat to Pakistan, least of all when it merely reflects the impressionistic feedback of a Pakistani official? What drastic decision by Imran Khan against core American interests has antagonized President Joe Biden to the point of instigating regime change in Pakistan?
As an editorial in The Friday Times notes, “Imran Khan should take a moral and principled position and resign so that the system can transfer power smoothly. The country craves certainty and stability.” But it is unlikely he will do that as he has stated he will “play till the last ball.”