Pakistan’s security agencies have not found credible evidence to confirm Prime Minister Imran Khan’s complaint of a ‘foreign conspiracy’ to topple his government, an official with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified, told Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
Premier Imran and the National Assembly deputy speaker had claimed that the National Security Committee, a top panel that groups civilian officials as well as the military and intelligence chiefs, had confirmed a plot to overthrow him.
However, the official, who is privy to such proceedings, said the security agencies had not come to the same conclusion as Imran Khan and had communicated their view to him as well.
Imran Khan lost his parliamentary majority last week and had been facing a no-confidence vote tabled by a united opposition that he was expected to lose on Sunday. But the deputy speaker of parliament threw out the motion, ruling it was part of a ‘foreign conspiracy’ and unconstitutional. President Arif Alvi on PM Imran’s advice then dissolved parliament.
The stand-off has thrown the country of 220 million people, ruled by the military for extended periods since independence in 1947, into a full-blown constitutional crisis.
The opposition challenged Imran Khan’s decision in a legal case in the Supreme Court that began on Monday. The panel of five judges has not said when it might give a ruling.
Political chaos would also worry the powerful military, which has stepped in to remove civilian governments and rule on three occasions, citing the need to end political uncertainty.
The turmoil also threatens to damage ties with long-time ally the United States, after Imran Khan accused it of being behind the plot to overthrow him.
The United States dismissed the accusation.
Imran Khan, who was for years critical of the US involvement in Afghanistan, also accused opposition parties of being part of a foreign conspiracy.
Shehbaz Sharif, the opposition candidate likely to replace Imran Khan as prime minister should the court rule against the latter, told media that he had urged army and intelligence chiefs to look into Imran’s accusation.
Political analysts say the military viewed Imran Khan and his conservative agenda favourably when he won a general election in 2018 but the generals’ support has since waned.
Imran Khan denied ever having the backing of the military and the military says it has no involvement in the political process.
Meanwhile, Lisa Curtis, regional expert who served in the Bush and Trump presidencies and now is a senior fellow at the Centre for a New American Security, has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is trying to play an “anti-American card” to build up his support base.
“It’s highly unlikely that any US official would get involved in Pakistan’s internal politics. I think Imran Khan is trying to play the ‘US card’ to build up support from his base,” Curtis said in an interview with Voice of America Deewa.
Premier Imran, in his speech at a public rally last week, claimed that there was a “foreign-funded plot” being hatched to oust his government through a vote of no-confidence motion moved by the opposition parties.
Commenting on Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent statement wherein he stressed the need for better ties with the US and reiterated that Pakistan does not believe in camp politics, she said that Pakistan’s military was trying to protect bilateral ties from Pakistan’s political crisis.
Curtis went on to say that PM Imran’s narrative could whip up anti-American sentiments in Pakistan. “Imran Khan is trying to drag the US into [internal politics] and get them [supporters] interested in backing him by raising this conspiracy theory that the US seeking regime change in Pakistan,” she added.