US ‘welcomes’ NSC statement saying no ‘foreign conspiracy’ to oust Imran



US State Department deputy spokesperson Jalina Porter has said that the United States welcomed the statement issued by Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) a day ago wherein it dismissed an impression of a “foreign conspiracy” to topple the Imran Khan-led government.

The senior US official made this statement during a press briefing in response to a question from a journalist.

“Today, the newly elected prime minster of Pakistan, Shehbaz Sharif, chaired the meeting of national security committee and senior military and civil officers attended that. And this meeting was to — about Imran Khan’s allegation of US government. So the press release we got, it states that the (inaudible) concludes that there has been no foreign conspiracy. How do you see this?” the journalist had asked.

“… We welcome this statement,” Porter replied.

The NSC — which is chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and includes the army and ISI chief — had met on Friday and discussed the “telegram received from the Pakistan embassy in Washington”.

According to the statement issued by the body, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Asad Majeed, who was also in attendance, briefed the committee on the context and content of his telegram. “The NSC was again informed by the premier security agencies that they have found no evidence of any conspiracy,” it had said, adding that the meeting concluded that “there has been no foreign conspiracy”.

It had, however, also “reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting”. In March, the committee 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”.

At a press briefing on Saturday, Porter dismissed the accusations leveled by Imran, saying “there’s absolutely no truth to those rumours, so we welcome this statement.”

“And I would also like to underscore that the United States values our longstanding cooperation with Pakistan and has always viewed a strong, prosperous, and democratic Pakistan as critical to US interests,” the senior official added.

Earlier, the US had also agreed with military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar’s statement in which he said that the NSC had in its first statement on the ‘cablegate’, unlike some political pronouncement by the PTI leaders, did not use the word “conspiracy”.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) had said that the military’s stance on the cable was formulated after a thorough investigation by an intelligence agency.

Cablegate

The controversy surrounding the no-confidence motion against the former premier Imran Khan took a dramatic turn when the embattled PM brandished a letter at a rally on March 27 — days before his ouster, claiming it contained evidence of a “foreign conspiracy” hatched to topple his government.

Imran had kept a mum about the contents of the letter when he first unveiled it, however, he spilled the beans days later by naming the United States when the exit of the government appeared imminent.

Imran’s allegation that the US spearheaded his exit from power was based on a cable received from Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US, Asad Majeed, in which he had reported about a meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu.

Majeed had reportedly said that Donald Lu warned that Imran Khan’s continuation in office, who was set to face a vote of no confidence, would have repercussions on bilateral relations. The US was said to be annoyed with Imran over his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow.

The Pentagon and the State Department have rejected the accusations, saying there was no veracity to it.

The National Security Committee (NSC), which includes all services chiefs as well as the head of Pakistan’s top intelligence agency, took up the matter on March 31 and decided to issue a “strong demarche” to a country that it did not name over what was termed “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan”.

It had also termed the interference “unacceptable under any circumstances” and said the language used in the communique was undiplomatic.



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