Wednesday December 07, 2022

Is US behind no-trust move against Imran?

Is it true and does the US still have such capability of affecting regime change in Pakistan?

March 07, 2022
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan pulled out the last leverage the PTI government enjoyed since its inception.
The US withdrawal from Afghanistan pulled out the last leverage the PTI government enjoyed since its inception. 

The PTI government is increasingly promoting a narrative that the international establishment, presumably the US, is behind the current move of the Opposition i.e. no-confidence motion (NCM).

Is it true and does the US still have such capability of affecting regime change in Pakistan? Some events below will contextualise why PTI supporters are promoting this narrative. The PTI government has failed to break the ice with the current US Admin since President Biden's election campaign when the then MOFA, a former Pakistani ambassador in Washington and certain Pakistani community leaders were openly campaigning for President Trump's re-election. It was a tactical mistake by the PTI government already setting a stage for the Biden Admin to look at the PTI government through a negative prism.

Then the infamous call was not made to PM by President Biden which left the PTI government bitter towards the US Admin. The PTI government boycotted the "Democracy Conference" called in and presided over by the Biden Admin.

The government also failed to put forth any cogent reason for the boycott except linking the move with ostensibly balancing Chinese concerns. It would have been better for the PTI government to join the Conference as a confident democratic polity and asserted its stance of any presumed US hypocrisy on democracy.

The US withdrawal pulled out the last leverage the PTI government enjoyed since its inception. This factor bolstered the feeling in Washington that the Biden Admin may no longer need the active support of the PTI government in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Imran Khan of late undertook a controversial Russia visit. The timing was highly controversial. "It was perceived as visibly anti-US no matter how hard the PM tried to balance it. When the whole world, particularly the US and Europe, were against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the PM Imran was in Moscow – an optically poor move at the best", said an observer.

Then what the MOFA and the PTI government did to neutralise the pro–Russian perception was already seen as least successful. The PTI government tried to balance by not joining condemnation of Russia and abstained in UNGA while making statements that implicitly disapprove invasion. It made the government appear on the wrong side of the US Admin-led international consensus, still. The perception of hard lean on Russia is the last thing the PTI government wants. In other words, the PTI government has become an unwitting victim in the resurgent Cold War against Russia.

Additionally, the usual bridge between the PM and then US Admin, i.e. the Trump Admin, was not available this time. The Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia was believed to be unhappy with Biden Admin's hue and cry over the Khashoggi episode, hence his distance with President Biden.

This is despite good ties of Pakistani establishment with the US establishment, including the Pentagon and the CIA. And despite establishment acting as smoother for relations, it failed to prevail over frostiness between the PM Imran and President Biden.

Enter the Opposition: The PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif has good ties with President Biden which have developed over the years. President Biden, being a veteran politician, also had a good liaison with the then President Asif Ali Zardari. He is now being lobbied hard for Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The new US Ambassador to Pakistan, Donald Blome, an old Pakistani hand of the State Department, also worked in the past in Islamabad and is a friend of Bilawal Bhutto.

Against this backdrop, the relations of PTI government with the Biden Admin could not thrive. Nor it automatically proves the conspiracy theory that the Biden Admin seeks to, or can remove Imran Khan’s government. The US has lost such capability for regime change in Pakistan a long time ago.

The proposed no-confidence motion by the Opposition if succeeds will be mainly an outcome of domestic drivers: the PTI’s government foreign policy and economic policies are not the main reason galvanising Opposition and PTI dissidents.

But the PM's radical political policies caused a backlash within the PTI and cornered the Opposition. The Opposition feared for political survivability; NAB's alleged accountability witch hunt; nightmare prospect if PM gets another five-year term; and opportune timing stemming from inflation and misgovernance were also factored into the thinking of Opposition.

On the other hand, the PM's alleged non-political behaviour treating every PTI member as a dispensable commodity led to defection and groupings within the party. Since the empowering factor behind the Opposition's NCM is not the number of the Opposition MNAs, but the number of PTI dissidents which encouraged the Opposition to launch the NCM.

The narrative of the US being behind the no-confidence motion is systematically being promoted to make the PM a political martyr for "defying the US" and is driven largely by a populist streak of the PTI. But the main factors behind the NCM are domestic.

Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan and an ex-adviser to the Balochistan government on media and strategic communication. He tweets @Jan_Achakzai


    Omar Elahi commented 9 months ago

    Domestic lol? Yea. Sure they are.

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      test commented 9 months ago

      no trust move against PM Khan i mean against their daddy in politics ? Another classic case of failure. Kiddos seems to be still learning. Any foreign interference in our country will backfire.

    G H A L I B J E E E commented 9 months ago

    I agree most fault lies in IK diplomacy, but if opposition takes over now they will be fighting soon after they take over. as they do not trust each other. that might just be blessing in disguise for PTI in the next election.

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      test1 commented 9 months ago

      I mistakenly like your comment but i don't think so they can pass no trust move against PM Khan. It will be their dream as always.

    imdadAli commented 9 months ago

    current situation for ruling party (PTI), is due to their own poor foreign policy. Our foreign policy should be clear and we should play neutral role instead of being party in such international issues of USSR and Ukraine.

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      Alam commented 9 months ago

      It seems you are not familiar with Pakistan's dynamics.How can a country like Pakistan can make an independent foreign policy?

    Abdul Basit commented 9 months ago

    I'm not a supporter of either Political party and as a layman , I think Imran Khan is the only hope for us in presence of sharifs type industrialists, zardari type Waderas and Khosa and Leghari Sardars in Pakistani politics.

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    Abdul Basit commented 9 months ago

    A good analysis to point out IK flies in Foreign affairs management and internal political balance. PTI chairman approach proves to be ill planned and has an impression of over reacted.

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    Razi Uddin commented 9 months ago

    The writer Jan is JUI activist so reader can understand pain in his words.

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    Muhammad Saleem Khan Allai commented 9 months ago

    This Achakzai is " lota" one time he was the front man of JUI then PMLN and last time PTI. When he sensed change in political land scape he starting distancing PTI.

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    Shahzada khan commented 9 months ago

    True analysis over the current issue.. PTI people are labelling it(NCM) as if it is backed from the outside.. but this is totally wrong perception .. in today's intense situation where the world is on verge of another world war.. No one has this much time to look into Pakistan's internal politics.

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    I think the analyst has not written the article himself or otherwise. commented 9 months ago

    This is a biased statement

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    Tayyab commented 9 months ago

    This is no time for regime change, no one would be happy to inherit current economic crisis of the country, only if they had assurances that IMF and other US controlled financial institutions would go easy on them.

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    M Naseem commented 9 months ago

    Above all, the country needs political stability. PTI should be allowed to complete its term. Politicians need to grow up.

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    Shahbaz Asif Tahir commented 9 months ago

    Pakistanis would be insane to side with an opposition who are professional thieves, looters and car thieves. Not only is the opposition consists of thieves but some need to be tried under article 6 for treason against the state.

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    Arif Kaderbhoy commented 9 months ago

    There maybe some truth to this as to our leaning towards the RUS/CH axis..

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    Nasir commented 9 months ago

    This is not logical but biased one

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    kasmir commented 8 months ago

    We all know how USA operates. IK doesn't need a call from US president. He knows how to talk to these ppl, they wants puppets like the 3 thugs. I am not surprised with US involvement and they will just deny everything - Jason Bourne hahaha

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