The National Security Committee on Friday concluded that there was no foreign conspiracy to oust the Imran Khan-led government.
According to a press release issued after a meeting of the body, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chaired the 38th meeting of the NSC to discuss the telegram received from the Pakistan embassy in Washington.
It was attended by former Pakistan ambassador to the United States Asad Majeed, Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Muhammad Amjad Khan Niazi, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmad Babar and senior civil and military officers.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar were also in attendance.
Former Pakistan Ambassador to the US Asad Majeed Khan briefed the committee on the context and content of his telegram.
“The NSC discussed the telegram received from the Pakistan embassy in Washington. Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US briefed the committee on the context and content of his telegram,” it stated.
“The NSC, after examining the contents of the communication, reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting,” the press release said.
“The NSC was again informed by the premier security agencies that they have found no evidence of any conspiracy. Therefore, the NSC, after reviewing the contents of the communication, the assessments received, and the conclusions presented by the security agencies, concluded that there has been no foreign conspiracy,” it added.
It is pertinent to note that the statement by the NSC comes as former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan has launched a campaign, claiming that his government was ousted by a “foreign conspiracy”. To back his claim, Imran has continuously referred to a cable sent by Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, which he said contains evidence of the conspiracy to topple his government.
This is the second time in as many months that the NSC has held a meeting to review the contents of the cable sent by Majeed.
In March, the NSC had decided to issue a ‘strong demarche’ to a country, that it did not name, over what it said was “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”. While the forum had stopped short of calling the interference a conspiracy in its last meeting, which was chaired by then-prime minister Imran Khan and included the same services chief who attended today’s meeting, it had explicitly not denied that a conspiracy was hatched.
Last month’s NSC meeting had also termed the interference “unacceptable under any circumstances”.
Earlier this month, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar categorically said that the word “conspiracy” was not used in the statement issued after March’s NSC meeting.
“As far as military response about the NSC meeting is considered, that stance, in that meeting was fully given, and then a statement was issued … which clearly says what was concluded in that meeting.
“The words used are in front of you … as I said … the words used are clear. Is there any word such as conspiracy used in it? I think not,” he had said in response to a question asked by a journalist.
The DG ISPR had also said that issuance of demarches was not specific to the hatching of conspiracies but could also be given for other reasons. “In this case, it was given for undiplomatic language and … interference,” he had said.
Ever since he was ousted by the opposition through a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly, Imran has dismissed the Shehbaz government, terming it “imported”.
The former PM said that the no-confidence move against him was part of a foreign conspiracy, claiming that the cable received from the ambassador on March 7, a day before the opposition officially filed the no-trust move against him, was evidence of the conspiracy.
The issue was first raised by Imran at a public rally on March 27. Imran said the cable carried details of the ambassador’s meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu in which the latter allegedly threatened Pakistan.
Majeed, in the cable, reportedly said that Lu warned that Imran’s continuation as the prime minister would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The US, Imran claimed, was annoyed with his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow.
Later on Friday, while responding to the NSC’s statement, the former ruling party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said that the committee’s findings have validated its position on the “threat letter”.
“The existence of the letter is a fact and every word of PTI Chairman Imran Khan is true in this regard,” the PTI said.
It said that the statement proved foreign interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan, adding that the decision to lodge a protest with the United States was correct.
The party called for the formation of a judicial commission as soon as possible to get to the bottom of the controversy and bring facts in front of the nation.
It urged the commission to investigate the threat given to Pakistan and trace the local characters who are part of the controversy.
It demanded investigators look into meetings between ambassadors of a “certain country”, opposition parties (currently in government) and PTI dissenting members.