Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan has reiterated that during his time in power he would “never have agreed” to any US demands of being given military bases in the country in the aftermath of the former’s evacuation from neighbouring Afghanistan, according to a media report.
The 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was voted out of power last month through a no-confidence motion, which he alleges was masterminded by the US with the help of local players over his pursuance of an independent foreign policy. He is the first premier in Pakistan whose fate was decided through a no-trust vote.
Addressing the overseas Pakistanis in a video message, Khan said that the US wanted bases in Pakistan in order to “conduct (counter attacks) from here in case if there were any terrorism in Afghanistan” – something Khan said he found “absolutely unacceptable”, Dawn newspaper reported.
He said Pakistan had already lost 80,000 lives in the US-led ‘war on terror’ and still its sacrifices were never appreciated, with many US politicians blaming it instead.
“First they blamed us, then they didn’t appreciate us, our country and tribal areas were destroyed and now (they) are again asking for bases. I would have never agreed to this and the problems (between us) started from there,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.
Khan, in an interview in June 2021, had categorically said that Pakistan would “absolutely not” allow any bases and use of its territory to the US for any sort of action inside Afghanistan.
His latest comments were similar to the ones he made in a recent podcast where he said that the US was “asking for bases here to stop international terrorism in Afghanistan”.
In the video address, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman said the US wasn’t used to Pakistan’s government “making independent decisions”. He said he wanted Pakistan’s foreign policy to be for its own benefit instead of pursuing someone else’s objectives.
“The problems started here,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s relationship with China and visit to Russia were also a “problem” for the US.
Khan also alleged that the “conspiracy” to topple his government started after he refused the demand for military bases and was aided by local abettors. Washington has strongly refuted Khan’s claims.
He said that by July and August of last year he had understood that “something was happening”.
Khan said the “bigger conspiracy” than his government being toppled was in who replaced him as he lashed out at the current government and branded it a “corrupt mafia”.
He criticised the members of the coalition government, claiming that “powerful local forces” had prevented their convictions in the cases against them.
Khan said that in his experience, Pakistan’s “ruling elite is corrupt, soft and slaves” and would not survive without the US.
“To place such people over us is a conspiracy against the future of this country and also its disrespect.” He said an example of how conspiracies to topple governments were pulled off was the fall of Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh and recounted his claims about the ‘Cablegate’ affair and the toppling of his government through a successful vote of no-confidence.
He thanked overseas Pakistanis for staging rallies and protests in his support after his ouster and called on them to participate in social media campaigns to spread awareness about the alleged conspiracy and write to their politicians and public representatives to hold them to account and question if they would allow such a move in their own country.
He also urged overseas Pakistanis to contribute and donate to the PTI’s fundraising campaign for its protests and rallies, saying that a “little bit of your support” would go a long way in helping the party.
“I have never seen such awareness and unity in the public as today. I only saw it during the 1965 war and I still remember how the whole nation had united,” he said.
He said the nation had come together on not accepting servitude or the “imported” government – referring to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government.
He predicted a massive turnout for his planned march to Islamabad on May 20, adding that the PTI did not want discord or violence in the march, rather it wanted families to participate too so the world and the institutions could know where the nation stood.