According to the Intercept investigative news site, a classified Pakistani government cable reveals that the U.S. State Department in a meeting on March 7 last year pressured the Pakistani government to remove the nation’s Prime Minister Imran Khan from office. U.S. officials in the Biden administration were angry about the prime minister’s neutrality over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and threatened unspecified consequences for Pakistan if Khan remained in power.
The March 7, 2022 meeting between the Pakistani ambassador to the US and two U.S. State Department officials has been the focus of intense scrutiny and speculation in Pakistan over the past year and a half, as former Prime Minister Khan publicly accused the Pakistani military and Washington of colluding to oust him from office, which occurred on April 9 last year when he lost a critical vote of confidence in parliament.
Khan, who was campaigning to regain the prime minister’s office in a general election later this year, was sentenced on Aug. 5 to three years in prison on corruption charges, which he denies. Khan has also been barred from seeking public office for five years. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Abdul Jabbar, emeritus professor of interdisciplinary studies at City College of San Francisco, who examines the facts surrounding charges that the U.S. pressured Pakistan to remove Prime Minister Khan from power last year.
ABDUL JABBAR: One day after (U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs) Donald Lu’s meeting with the Pakistani ambassador in which he talks about the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, the next day, the motion was introduced into parliament. One day after that. And one month after that he was removed from power.
The U.S. government did not think of the welfare of the people of Pakistan — 230 million people — because when the change was made, the army installed the worst kind of incompetent and corrupt people. The 60 percent of the parliament that was installed by the army, they were on bail 50 percent. That is no exaggeration, the facts at all there. They were on bail.
And one last thing on that issue. I have no doubt that the statements have been accurate is that Imran Khan was neutral. He was trying to bring together countries in reconciliation.
Now, what happened after his removal? Pakistan’s government, the current government, is now supplying weapons to Ukrainian military. And just recently, on Aug. 3, according to a Pakistani newspaper, Pakistan’s parliament approved the signing of a defense pact with the U.S.: joint exercises, operations, training, etc.
So this defense pact with the U.S., dumping (the deal Imran Khan had made with Russia to purchase) cheaper oil and wheat for the Pakistani suffering masses, has come at the cost of 230 million people of Pakistan who love America, but they hate the U.S. government’s policies.
SCOTT HARRIS: Professor Jabar, I did want to ask you further about the State Department denial. As this article in The Intercept brought out, U.S. State Department spokespersons have repeatedly denied that the U.S. had any role in the removal of Imran Khan from power. They’re very aggressive in denying that accusation from Imran Khan and the evidence provided in this cable. What’s your take on their denial?
ABDUL JABBAR: Yes, thank you for asking that question. You know, we all — I am guilty of that, too. We all go to news and we want to spend the least amount of time. So we go for news to spokespersons of the State Department and his name is Matthew Miller, one of them. And he blatantly lied about the contents of the cable.
Any literate person who can read English can understand that he is not telling the truth. It is insulting to all of us that he thinks that we really cannot understand what the cable contents are. I’m giving you one example. In the words of Matthew Miller, he says, “There is nothing in the comments by Donald Lu that shows the U.S. is taking a position on who the leader of Pakistan should be.”
Donald Lu’s statement to the ambassador that a “dent (in the relationship)” has been made by Imran Khan’s policy and “we will see if the dent can be removed.” The “dent” is Imran Khan. Isn’t that taking a position? So Mr. Miller is amazingly, I would say, ignorant if he cannot read between the lines because not only between the lines, it is explicit.
SCOTT HARRIS: Well, I did want to ask you an important question about the importance of this investigative piece by The Intercept. Why should Americans care about the alleged U.S. role in removing the head of state in Pakistan? Certainly, we have to be aware that Pakistan is a nuclear-armed nation. And we also have to understand that the United States has a long history of engaging in overthrowing dozens of governments across the world, governments that the United States has disliked or declared as enemies through many, many decades.
How would you answer that question, professor? Why should Americans care about this story?
ABDUL JABBAR: We shouldn’t allow our government to continue to play havoc with the lives of innocent people who want nothing but our friendship and love. The biggest question is how American people can help. We should call our representatives in the Congress, our senators, our congressmen or congresswoman, and say, “Why are we doing it to Pakistan’s people? It is a humanitarian disaster.”
I don’t think our people here know the extent of what has happened there. It is totally a fascistic state that the U.S. is happy — now, government I’m talking about — because they have achieved their objective objective, to turn Pakistan against Russia, to turn Pakistan also, now they’re turning against China, signing the pact defense debt. But that is very bankrupt ethically and in the long run, counterproductive policy.
The U.S. government has succeeded in the short run. Ten thousand members of the party of Imran Khan, 10,000 are in jail and the top leadership has been arrested. Most of them have been tortured. Journalists have been murdered.
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