Pakistan and US go back a long way together. There have been ups and downs. The lowest point lately, was under Khan’s government. As Khan moved towards Russia- his government committed a grievous miscalculation of timing Khan’s visit to Russia as it invaded Ukraine at exactly that point in time. There was a feeling in Washington that Pakistan was supporting Russian and Chinese agenda in Afghanistan.
Invited to U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, Khan after initially agreeing to attend, decided to skip the occasion. The Foreign Office released a statement that Pakistan was in contact with the United States on a range of issues, adding that Islamabad believed it could engage on the subject of democracy “at an opportune time in the future”.
In the first virtual summit conference by Biden [April 22-23] Pakistan was not extended an invite with the 40 heads of states including those from Bangladesh, Bhutan & India. An invite was sent, rather late, as an after thought to a junior functionary of Khan’s department of climate change.
The snubs continued. John Kerry, Biden’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, visited Bangladesh and India but skipped Pakistan in April 2021. In March 2021, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Afghanistan and India, not Pakistan. A telephonic exchange by US defense chief to General Qamar Javed Bajwa while in Kabul was considered adequate.
Let us also not forget that the purported kidnappers and killers of Daniel Pearl; Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and three associates were acquitted as Biden was taking oath.
In this background of relationship that his government had with that of Biden’s, Khan ousted from power, raised the specter of a cypher conspiracy. This by later investigations has been proved to be not a conspiracy as claimed.
Quoting from *Department of State Daily Press Briefing – October 31, 2022*; a leading journalist posed a question to Ned Price that, ‘The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, is heading a protest march towards capital city Islamabad demanding fresh elections. But in his speeches once again blaming the United States for regime change in Pakistan. We talked about this many times. The question is that is this a concern that a popular leader in Pakistan is leading an anti-American campaign.’ To which Ned Price responded; ‘What we can do is counter disinformation, misinformation with information. And we’ve said many times now, including in this briefing room that there is no truth to these allegations. We won’t let propaganda, we won’t let misinformation or disinformation get in the way of an important bilateral relationship, including our valued bilateral partnership with Pakistan. We value that long standing cooperation between the United States and Pakistan. We’ve always viewed a prosperous and democratic Pakistan is critical to our interests that remains unchanged.’ (A video of this is available on record).
What is important for the PTI chief to understand is that he has since he was appointed the Prime Minister till now, he has surely but slowly eroded his support internationally as well as institutionally within. In the present wave of support for Khan, chances of his return with a majority cannot be doubted. However, governments to work need the support internally and externally. How will Khan achieve this in the toxic atmosphere created?
The writer is a lawyer, academic and political analyst. She has authored a book titled ‘A Comparative Analysis of Media & Media Laws in Pakistan.’ She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org and tweets at @yasmeen_9
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