Syed M Hamza
The ‘lettergate’ scandal that led to the recent political conundrum began when a cable from the Pakistan embassy in Washington was sent to Pakistan’s foreign office. It included notes from a farewell lunch hosted on 7th March in honor of then Pakistan Ambassador to the United States, Asad Majeed Khan, at Pakistan House. During that lunch, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald LU and Deputy Assistant Secretary Lesslie C Viguerie were also present. The US officials reportedly used undiplomatic language and expressed their reservation and disappointment with Imran Khan’s decision to visit Russia.
According to a communiqué released after the National Security Committee meeting to discuss the intricate matter, the committee viewed the message as “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan.” It is pertinent to mention here that a démarche was issued to the foreign country over undiplomatic language, tantamount to interference.
This sort of interference is not something the United States has done for the first time. From the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 to the Coup d’état against the Former Prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh involving “Operation Ajax” conducted by the CIA in 1953 under the Eisenhower administration, time and again, the United States has been covertly involved in regime changes. Between 1945 and 2000, the United States influenced 81 elections in foreign countries. At this point, it is common knowledge that the USA was behind the toppling of the government of Saddam Hussein in 2003, yet many people try to negate the former Prime Minister Khan’s stance. Not only had the United States spied in Pakistan through NGOs, but it has also disregarded the sovereignty of Pakistan by capturing Osama Bin Ladden from the city of Abbottabad.
The downfall of Imran Khan started the day he replied “absolutely not” to journalist Jonathan Swan when asked if he would give army bases to the US for conducting operations in Afghanistan; just like the political career of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had ended the day he used the term “white elephant” for the US. A white elephant that neither forgives nor forgets and Bhutto told the Parliament that United Stated was displeased with him because he did not offer his support in the Vietnam war.
In his book Faith, Unity, Discipline, Dr. Hein G Kiessling reiterates that two of the four theories explaining the Air Crash that killed Gen Zia ul Haq are linked to foreign conspiracy. When John Gunther Dean, US ambassador in India, made his theory public, which involved a joint assassination conspiracy by Indians and Israelis against Gen Zia, he was called back to the State Department, declared mentally ill, and prematurely retired from his diplomatic service. This also brings attention to why Bianna Golodryga from CNN called the comments of Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi antisemitic when all the Foreign Minister did was stand up for Muslims in Palestine and called out Israel’s deep pockets for propaganda?
Albeit Imran Khan is no longer in the office, there are many lessons for him if he successfully wins the next general elections. One of the lessons for Imran Khan is to be more diplomatic and not be so upfront about superpowers in media but rather be more assertive in his actions. Beautifully explained by Michael Wolff in his book Fire and Fury that the Obama administration was quite aggressive in deporting illegal immigrants. Still, they neither told the liberals about it nor confessed it to the media. On the contrary, Donald Trump faced a lot of hatred for his actions in immigration law because he was upfront and open about it.
Another thing Imran Khan can incorporate next time is not to interfere too much in the matters of establishment, unlike the way he did by delaying the appointment of DG ISI. When Donald Trump took office, it was communicated to him by many of his confidants to be on good terms with the intelligence community.
According to Michael Wolff, these were forces not to be trifled with. Next time, Imran Khan should be more flexible. He should have removed Usman Buzdar as Chief Minister Punjab when Buzdar’s performance was subpar and not promising. If Imran Khan can return to the office, he should stay in touch with his MNAs and engage with them rather than just be surrounded by a few cabinet members.
Lastly, suppose he wins the next general elections. In that case, he should come up with a team for his cabinet and stick with it for his entire tenure of governance as portfolios, especially of information and interior ministry, were handed over from one person to another quite frequently in the PTI government. For now, Khan should try to ensure that the next elections are conducted through electronic voting machines for transparency with the help of his supporters and intelligentsia.
*Writer is an independent analyst
*The views and opinions in this article are the writers’ own and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of the institute