When Prime Minister Imran Khan waved a piece of paper at a public rally on March 27, saying it was a threatening letter from a foreign power and that a plot was underway against him – similar to the one against the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto – to pursue an independent foreign policy, that seemed pretty weird to me.
The way Imran Khan constructed this narrative strongly implied that this was a threat coming directly from the highest levels of the country concerned. I have been posted to diplomatic missions in a number of countries and I know for sure that no country would ever threaten another country in writing as it is not a diplomatic norm to engage in such thoughtless activities .
Later it was revealed that the letter was not from the government of the country concerned, but from a telegram sent by our Ambassador to the United States and was based on his meeting with an Assistant Secretary of State where the situation in Pakistan and the relations between the two countries were discussed. The secretary reportedly expressed annoyance at Pakistan’s stance on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and Imran Khan’s outspoken criticism of the US and EU.
It is diplomatic practice that ambassadors keep their governments informed of developments in the country of their accreditation, particularly with regard to matters of bilateral and multilateral interest, through telegrams classified as documents secrets. I think it was wrong of Imran Khan to indulge in such theatrics. He probably doesn’t understand the repercussions of his indiscretion.
If the United States was truly angry with him for his previous rhetoric, his recent tactics to reap political advantage through this alleged threat would anger him even more, with Pakistan bearing all the consequences. Relations between two countries are not maintained in this way, and the preferred choice is to deal with all matters through diplomatic channels.
I am also intrigued by his claim that he is being targeted for pursuing an independent foreign policy. It may seem like a brave approach to his die-hard supporters who never tire of singing his praises for challenging a superpower, but the fact is, it’s a reckless move on the part of a country’s chief executive. annoy a superpower in such a way. Anyone who says Pakistan can afford to pursue an independent foreign policy is either ignoring the current world situation or trying to deceive their target audience. Belligerent bluster in the realm of diplomacy comes at a price, especially when waged against a superpower and its powerful allies.
Managing relations with other countries, especially a superpower like the United States, requires the utmost caution and pragmatism. If the US and the EU really feel infuriated by Imran’s indiscretion, it could prove detrimental to the country in many ways. Pakistan may also struggle to get off the FATF gray list without a wink from the United States. Furthermore, the superpower could easily use its influence over international lending agencies to stop lending to Pakistan, and especially the EU could withdraw Pakistan’s GSP plus status, ruining our textile industry.
Countries like Pakistan cannot afford to pursue an independent foreign policy. The extent to which a country can manipulate and manage its foreign relations depends on its value in the community of nations, reflected in its economic might, military prowess, and soft power. A country with a begging bowl simply cannot think of following an independent path, contrary to what Imran Khan tries to make the nation believe to advance his political agenda on the home front. He is a complete failure on the external front because he lacks the insight needed to understand the dynamics of world politics.
Even on the home front, he hugely disappointed his supporters and angered millions who were hit hard by double-digit inflation. He also has a dismal record of working with the opposition, an essential requirement in a democratic setup. The result is permanent political instability in the country. He lowered the prestige of parliament by ruling the country by ordinances. The media has been on the receiving end of the harshness of such actions. The highly publicized accountability process turned out to be nothing more than a political vendetta against political opponents of the government. This impression was reinforced by the repeated observations of the superior courts. There could not have been a more serious indictment of the PTI regime for its foul play than this.
The current situation is surely a sequel to his attempts to push the opposition to the wall. Imran Khan’s transition into a traditional demagogue with the uncanny propensity to reach the halls of power and then cling to them by any means – fair or unfair – endears him to public dislike. However, he still feels he is the most popular political leader in the country and has ignored the fact that the PTI lost the 17 by-elections that were held for the AN and PA seats. . The party also lost the cantonment elections and also suffered a defeat in the first phase of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) local body elections.
Imran Khan faces a revolt within the ranks of his own party. At least 22 PTI lawmakers attended the dinner hosted recently by the opposition. The PDM now enjoys the support of 197 deputies in the National Assembly, after some government allies, including the MQM-P, decided to support the motion of no confidence against the prime minister. Now that he is about to leave, it is hoped that he will learn from his experiences at the head of the country’s executive and the political blunders he has made.
Even if the PDM tries to use its constitutional right to oust the Prime Minister from power, this decision is not desirable from the point of view of strengthening democracy and political stability which the country so badly needs. Our politicians must rise above their vested interests and refrain from destabilizing an incumbent government before its term ends.
If a government is not performing, the people will decide in the next elections. This vicious circle of undermining the mandate of the people must end.
The author is an independent contributor. He can be contacted at: [email protected]