Amid a major constitutional crisis in Pakistan the Biden administration has rejected Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that the United States is actively plotting his downfall. Khan claimed to have evidence revealing that an unnamed foreign power is attempting to stage a regime change in Pakistan or even to assassinate the prime minister for refusing to “sell the country.” Khan has subsequently abandoned the euphemisms and is openly accusing the White House of trying to arrange his demise.
White House denies alleged plot against Pakistani PM
American journalists have been very liberal in using comparisons to Donald Trump in foreign politicians since 2016, but in Pakistan, it isn’t hard to see why Imran Khan has earned the comparison.
Khan is a brash former cricket star who swept into office in 2018 after promising popular reforms to crack down on government corruption and revitalize the economy.
In 2018 he was elected with the tacit approval of the Pakistani military, which openly ruled the country for much of its existence and continues to exert an enormous influence on domestic politics.
Now it is widely believed that Khan has lost their support. The prime minister has made it clear that he sees himself as the country’s chief decision maker, rather than the army.
Pakistani voters are generally enthusiastic about his anti-American foreign policy rhetoric, as the United States is often viewed as an overbearing presence meddling in the region’s politics.
The military does not share that opposition and its leadership has warily observed Khan’s efforts to distance the country from the West.
Constitutional crisis threatens new turmoil
This is the climate in which Khan is in currently, as he accuses the opposition of working with the White House to enact a regime change and force out the country’s elected leadership.
Khan dissolved parliament before the opposition could hold a no-confidence vote that was expected to force him out of office. The decision was challenged and has gone to the nation’s supreme court.
Regardless of who wins in court, there will have to be a general election soon. Imran Khan will be rallying his supporters with claims of foreign interference and American scheming.
The prime minister and his party will attempt to frame the election as a defiant stand against the West, rather than a referendum on Pakistan’s underwhelming economic progress.
The White House confirmed that it is “closely following” the situation in Pakistan but denied that it has had any involvement in orchestrating the no-confidence vote or plotting to eliminate Khan.
The State Department may not be actively involved in trying to remove the Pakistani prime minister, but with the promise of a bitter anti-Western campaign ahead the US would undoubtedly be relieved to see him gone.