By Sajjad Shaukat for Pakistan VT
Chairman of the PTI party Imran Khan who was elected Pakistan’s Prime Minister on August 18, 2018, had been ousted on April 10, this year through the joint opposition’s no-confidence motion.
In line with the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), the session of the National Assembly (NA) began in the morning of April 9, 2022, chaired by the ex-Speaker Asad Qaiser who belongs to PTI. Leaders of the PDM-an alliance of the united opposition and those of the former government of the PTI addressed the National Assembly regarding the recent developments.
President of PML-N Shehbaz Sharif, including other lawmakers of the PDM, hailed the apex court’s rejection of the deputy speaker’s ruling of April 3, this year when he had dismissed the voting on the no-trust move, as he termed it “unconstitutional”, saying that it was supported by a foreign power and violated Article 5 which states that loyalty to the state is the duty of every citizen.
Addressing the House, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said: “The opposition was invited to speak, if they believe the communiqué [Threat letter by the US] does not exist we will put forth proof…foreign conspiracy to topple the PTI-led government…We have not said no to the voting [against Premier], we want the evidence to be examined before the vote is taken…justice was yet to be done…attempts for a regime change had been exposed…Horse trading…the question is whether this was constitutional?”
Quereshi reminded us that before the SCP’s judgment, the opposition said that they would not accept any decision reviving the “doctrine of necessity” when the matter was subjudice.
PTI lawmaker Shireen Mazari called the apex court’s verdict a “judicial coup”.
Shehbaz Sharif and other members of the assembly were insisting upon the deputy speaker to start voting on the no-trust move, while those of the PTI wanted to conclude the final decision of the House about the foreign conspiracy.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari alleged that PM Imran was seeking military intervention in the country’s political affairs by delaying voting on the no-confidence motion.
But, PTI leaders remarked that under Article 69 of the Constitution, NA speaker’s ruling has immunity and the SCP can not intervene in the internal affairs of the NA.
It is mentionable that in a televised live address to the nation on April 8, 2022, the former Prime Minister Imran Khan stated: “I will never accept the “imported government” and I will take to the streets…They [incoming government] will end accountability drive-by abolishing NAB [National Accountability Bureau]…he was disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling against his government…The apex court should’ve at least seen the ‘threat letter’ before issuing the verdict…We also hoped that Supreme Court would also take suo motu notice against horse-trading”.
PM Imran also said that he could not disclose the full text of the ‘threat letter’ before the nation as it is a top-secret coded document known as ‘cipher’.
Ex-PM Khan recurrently remarked that he will not resign and will fight for Pakistan till the last ball.
As regards the ‘threat letter’, the then Premier Imran Khan has repeatedly stated that the foreign hand and the opposition’s motion of no-confidence were linked to each other. He pointed out that the words ‘no-confidence motion’ is clearly mentioned in the letter—which contained a warning from America that if the motion was not passed, it would have disastrous consequences—if passed, the US would forgive—the former prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif and the senior leadership of PDM were behind this conspiracy.
He elaborated: “Foreign funding is being used to change the government, and the ‘threat letter’ was received on March 7, this year just one day before the tabling of the no-trust move.
Acting US envoy in Islamabad was summoned to the Foreign Ministry on March 31, 2021, to lodge a protest with the US over a threatening letter, hours after the country’s top decision-making body National Security Committee (NSC) which includes top civilian, military and intelligence leadership, voiced concerns over the issue during a meeting chaired by ex-PM Khan.
In his various statements and rallies the then Prime Minister Imran Khan repeatedly remarked that he was paying the price in the shape of a “foreign conspiracy hatched by the United States” to topple the incumbent government through the opposition’s no-confidence motion for pursuing an “independent foreign policy”.
In this respect, PM Khan had been openly speaking against the US and its Western major allies, accusing his political opponents of being ‘slaves of America’. His criticism of the decision of former President Gen. Pervez Musharraf to join the American war on terror, the use of drones to target the country’s northwestern tribal regions, clarifying that Pakistan’s soil would not be used for foreign country’s missions, his recent visit to Moscow despite advice by Jake Sullivan-American President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, not to visit Russia at a time when the Russian troops were invading Ukraine and refusal to European Union (EU) countries for pressurizing Pakistan to vote against Russia during the recently held special session of the UN General Assembly in connection with the Russia-Ukraine war, saying if they considered Islamabad their “slave”, particularly irritated Washington.
Notably, in a statement, spokesperson for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova endorsed on April 5, 2022, that the United States was committing “another attempt of shameless interference” in the internal affairs of Pakistan to punish a “disobedient Imran Khan for not supporting the US position on Ukraine…the Americans and their Western associates began to exert rude pressure on the Prime Minister Imran Khan to cancel the visit of Moscow… the US-orchestrated a plan to topple his government”.
Besides, Khan’s other acts such as favor of China and Russia—their stance for stability in the region, support for collective efforts of Beijing, Moscow, and Iran to assist the regime of the Afghan Taliban, and provision of basic needs of life to Afghan people by China and Pakistan, strong stand on Kashmir—pointed out Indian military lockdown and state terrorism in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), while indicating inaction of the US-led West’s major powers against New Delhi annoyed America.
It is noteworthy that during his visit to New York City in September 2020, the then PM Imran said: “The Indian occupied region has been facing a clampdown since August 5…[Nearly] 100,000 Kashmiris have died in the past 30 years…I am disappointed by the international community. If eight million Europeans or Christians or Jews or Americans were put under siege…you can imagine the action…The only reason why Kashmiris are subjected to this is, they’re Muslims”.
It was also because of PM Imran’s efforts on Islamophobia at the UN which adopted a resolution and fixed March 15 as an international day against Islamophobia.
While the PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had threatened to disrupt the National Assembly session by staging a sit-in in front of the assembly and to hamper the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conference, which took place on March 22-23 in Islamabad, stating that if no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan was delayed,
Nevertheless, Pakistan hosted the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) of the OIC, with more than 600 delegates in attendance, including Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi as a special guest.
Addressing the conference on March 22, 2022, Prime Minister Khan regretted in a speech delivered at the opening session of the conference that the OIC had failed in making an impact on the burning issues of Palestine and Kashmir despite representing 1.5 billion people. The conference had an ambitious agenda, covering issues like Palestine, Kashmir and other challenges—facing the Islamic countries. He explained: “I ask the OIC that unless we have a united front, these injustices will keep happening.”
The Saudi foreign minister, the OIC Secretary-General, the Chinese Foreign Minister, and other speakers did stress the need for a resolution of the Kashmir dispute in line with the UN resolutions, including the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
These moves under the leadership of Khan also infuriated the US-led Western countries, as prejudice is running high in these countries in the aftermath of the American so-called global war on terror.
In fact, Pakistan cannot trust the US as the latter has been following a paradoxical strategy toward Islamabad—sometimes senior American officials have praised the sacrifices of Pakistan during the war on terror, sometimes have admitted that stability could not be reached in Afghanistan without the help of Pakistan, but at the same time, they blamed Islamabad for cross-border terrorism in Afghanistan.
It is worth mentioning that during the Cold War, despite the accession of Islamabad to the military alliances sponsored by the US SEATO and CENTO, including the bilateral military agreement, America did not come to help Pakistan against India which separated East Pakistan in 1971.
After the end of the Cold War, the US left both Pakistan and Afghanistan to face the fallout of the Afghan war 1.
By manipulating the nuclear program of Islamabad, Washington imposed various sanctions on Pakistan.
After the 9/11 tragedy, America, again, needed Pakistan’s help. Pakistan was granted the status of a non-NATO ally by the US owing to the early successes, achieved by Pakistan’s Army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) against the Al-Qaeda militants.
When the US-led allies felt that they are failing in coping with the stiff resistance of the Taliban in Afghanistan, particularly America started accusing Pakistan Army and ISI of supporting the Afghan Taliban.
And on August 15, last year, the victory of the Taliban freedom fighters and the humiliated defeat of the US in Afghanistan, and its other NATO allies are still fresh in the minds of the US-led Western countries. In order to justify the defeatism in the longest war, some US-led entities revived the blame game against Islamabad for their failure in Afghanistan.
Surprisingly, top civil and military officials of America and its Western partners praised the positive role of Pakistan in Doha talks which resulted in the US-Taliban agreement on February 29, 2020. They also thanked Pakistan’s rulers for the country’s help in the evacuation and facilitation of foreign diplomats and nationals from Kabul airport. But, as part of the double game, some of these countries are implementing the conspiracy against Pakistan, China, Iran, and Russia.
Now, despite the Taliban’s assurances of maintaining peace, formation of an inclusive government, and respecting human rights, especially of women—clarifying that Afghan soil would not be used for any terrorist outfits like Al-Qaeda and the ISIS, and for terror attacks against neighboring countries, America and some of its Western allies, including their media have launched a propaganda campaign against the Taliban to avenge the triumph of the latter.
Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan stated that Afghanistan has broken the “shackles of slavery,” as the Taliban returned to power.
Meanwhile, in his marathon speech at the Islamabad rally in reference to the opposition leaders Asif Ali Zardari, Shahbaz Sharif, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman, former Premier Khan made it clear that he would not spare “corrupt leaders” even if he had to sacrifice his government or his life—three stooges wanted to topple my government to get an NRO and doge accountability.
And quoting and supporting PML(N) leader Khawaja Asif’s comments that “We can’t exist without America” and that “America is our ventilator”—“America would have us on our knees if they launched any steps action against us”, during an interview with a private news channel on April 2, 2022, the PML-N President Shehbaz remarked that “beggars can’t be choosers”.
Nonetheless, extraordinary developments of midnight of April 9 and April 10 (2022) surprised the nation, while giving a negative message to the world. In this connection, the filing of an emergency petition by Advocate Adnan Iqbal in the Islamabad High Court, seeking to restrain Prime Minister Imran Khan from de-notifying Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is notable.
The staff of the Supreme Court had also been directed to arrive at midnight. Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial arrived at the apex court. According to the sources, the Supreme Court might initiate contempt of court proceedings against the National Assembly speaker for not implementing its order of holding voting on the no-trust motion against PM Imran Khan within the stipulated time.
Foreign and Pakistan sources suggest that a high alert had been declared at all airports, especially the Islamabad International Airport. The quarters concerned directed the FIA immigration officers to strictly enforce the No Objection Certificate ban on government officials and officers going abroad. The patrolling of Airport Security Force commandos also increased.
In this context, Foreign Website News 18 Com indicated on April 9, 2022: “Pakistan Army’s 111 Infantry Brigade, also known as ‘coup brigade’ due to its fast response in military coup d’etats, has been put on charge of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence. Islamabad has been put on high alert and the Army has been deployed. The Pakistan Parliament House has been sealed and a “Red Zone” has been declared by police ahead of the no-trust vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Prison vans and extra security has been deployed in the area”. And, still, it is unclear who issued these orders or who was behind these moves.
According to Reuters, army chief General Qamar also met PM Imran amid an impasse over a parliamentary vote to oust the premier.
In the meantime, NA Speaker Asad Qaiser and his deputy, Qasim Khan Suri, had resigned. NA Speaker Qaiser said that he could not take part in a foreign conspiracy to oust the prime minister. PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq who chaired the session conducted voting of the no-trust move and announced that with a majority of 174 votes, the no-confidence motion had been passed against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Before announcing his resignation, Qaiser said that he had received “important documents” (threat letter) from the cabinet.
BBC on April 10, 2022, indicated: “Imran Khan has been ousted as Pakistan’s prime minister after a vote of no confidence in parliament. But what led to his downfall?… When Imran Khan was elected prime minister in 2018…had the covert backing of what in Pakistan is referred to as the establishment or the military. The army has either directly or indirectly controlled the country for most of its existence, and critics labeled Imran Khan’s government a hybrid regime”.
Rejecting various false reports from the foreign media, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on April 10, 2022, termed a report by the BBC Urdu “fake” that claimed an unpleasant meeting between PTI Chairman Imran Khan and army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa hours before Imran’s ouster through a no-trust vote. The BBC claimed that the former premier had removed Gen. Bajwa as the army chief. PM Imran rejected this baseless rumor.
Earlier, opposition leaders were also saying that the military establishment was “neutral” in the current political crisis.
The then Prime Minister Khan had reiterated that he respected the country’s top military leadership’s decision of not becoming part of political affairs.
In the recent past, the Director-General of ISPR Maj-Gen. Babar Iftikhar clarified that it had nothing to do with politics and urged everyone not to speculate further as the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan locked horns with the joint opposition.
Some leaders of the united opposition are quoting the statement of Gen. Bajwa who told a security summit in Islamabad that Pakistan wants good relations with China, a major investor, and also with the United States, the country’s largest export market. They misinterpreted that army disagreed with PM Khan’s policy against America.
Moreover, without bothering with the Official Secrets Act, 1923, and a violation of his oath-under Article 91(5), the ex-Prime Minister Khan sent the threat letter to important personalities like Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Bandial and army chief Gen. Bajwa.
While, leaders of the joint opposition parties—Shehbaz Sharif of PML-N, senior vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and vice president Maryam Nawaz of PML-N, Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the PPP challenged the authenticity of the ‘threat letter’—repeatedly said that the letter was a ploy of PM Khan to castigate the no-confidence motion.
Following the fall of Imran Khan’s government through the no-trust motion, the PTI on April 10, 2022, staged countrywide protests. Protesters strongly rejected the “imported government” being constituted in the country as a result of a foreign conspiracy against the former prime minister. Besides the US, they also chanted slogans against the PDM. Protests and rallies were also held in the capitals of some Western countries.
Besides, PTI got the victory in 32 out of 65 tehsils and 18 districts in the second phase of local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP)—voting was held on March 31, 2022.
Regarding the sweeping victory of the PTI in the local government elections in KP, State Minister for Information Farrukh Habib stated that stooges of external powers got the first result of public no-confidence against them.
Latest reports suggest that National Assembly has selected Shehbaz Sharif as the new prime minister today (on April 11, 2022) after the PTI MNAs decided to boycott the election and resign en masse from the lower house, as they have not recognized the imported government, and would also launch a mass movement against the PDM regime after Eid. However, the political crisis will further aggravate and could result in civil war. In such a situation, the government can announce general elections, or otherwise, the army may be compelled to interfere as it has also to maintain the integrity of the country while securing the national interests—as politicians always try to sacrifice for their personal interests.
Pakistan’s history is full of constitutional violations. For instance, Constitution was violated on October 12, 1999, by Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf’s coup, while Supreme Court’s Chief Justice
Iftikhar Chaudhry issued an order that Gen. Musharraf could administer the government’s affairs. Thus, he legitimized his military rule.
As regards the plot against Pakistan, the reality is that America, India, and some Western countries are acting according to the Zionist agenda to denuclearize Pakistan, because the latter is the only nuclear country in the Islamic world. So, it already existed, but this conspiracy had accelerated under the former PM Khan.
Intentional or unintentionally our own political and military entities have become part of this plot.
Now, besides facing external challenges—Indian war-mongering policy, Pakistan’s security agencies have been coping with a different war, as the enemy employs subversive activities of various kinds which include both internal and external crises. In this context, Gen. Bajwa has repeatedly stated that Pakistan is facing the challenge of a hybrid war.
The country is also facing grave crises and problems like corruption, soaring prices, energy shortage, unemployment, crimes, lack of health facilities, and dependence upon the US-led developed countries, IMF, and World Bank for financial aid.
At this critical hour, the government and the opposition leaders, including all other segments of society must sign a charter of democracy by showing selfless national unity to pull the country out of the ongoing serious crises.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Email: sajjad¬_logic @yahoo.com
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is the author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org