Implications Of The Alleged 'Threatening Letter' For Pakistani Foreign Policy

Implications Of The Alleged 'Threatening Letter' For Pakistani Foreign Policy
On the 27th of March, addressing a large gathering of his supporters, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan waved a white paper before the audiences and called it a threat letter from foreign actors aiming to overthrow his government. “If someone wants justification and confirmation of the contents, I can show it off-the-record,” he said.

PM Imran Khan blamed the Pakistani political leadership for supporting a foreign agenda planning to dethrone the setting government. He called it an attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty and national interest. Adding further, Mr. Khan expressed the view that his government is not acceptable for powerful foreign actors which is, in fact, a threat to their interests in Pakistan.

Apparently, the letter seems fake and a melodrama to cash patriotic sentiments of Pakistanis. Undoubtedly, PM Khan is facing worst kind of political failure if the Vote of No Confidence against him succeeds – which could lead to his removal from office.

The only option left with Mr. Khan was to play tactically and link the current unfavourable political scenarios with an “international conspiracy.”

The alleged threat letter is a matter of serious consideration. Playing with the State’s national interests for mere political scoring is very dangerous. Politicising the State’s dignity and compromising on its sanctity will further affect Pakistan’s global image.

PM Imran Khan behaved undiplomatically. Instead of placing the matter before the National Security Committee, discussing the letter in a public gathering is categorically an immature act which doesn’t suit the Prime Minister of a state.

Interestingly, the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Mian Shehbaz Sharif and other opposition leaders challenged Prime Imran Khan that if he dared to make public the contents and proved the letter as threat from foreign forces, they would be standing behind him, and will support him all the way.

To be very clear, the alleged letter and accusations made by Mr. Khan are indeed serious and need proper inquiry. If it goes without investigation, it will surely damage Pakistan’s national security policy and national interests too. Threatening a state’s premier via letter, if it happened, is a threat to the state’s sovereignty.

By “foreign conspiracy,” Mr. Khan means that the United States is intending to overthrow his government.

PM Imran Khan wants to behave like Bhutto, who used to criticise the US on logical grounds. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto never opposed the United States for narrow political interests, but opposed US policies which – in his view – threatened regional peace. Despite the US threats, Z.A. Bhutto launched Pakistan’s nuclear program. Together with Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal, Bhutto successfully tried to bring the Muslim Ummah together on one platform, and made the OIC more effective and functional.

On the other hand, Imran Khan has done relatively little to cause the United States to oppose him and conspire to overthrow the government. And yet, for political interests, he has always preferred anti-American rhetoric to cash in on votes and power. He even calls his political opponents “the slaves of America” which is, of course not a fair way to do politics.

Unavoidably, the power centres of Pakistan must reckon that the US is powerful: opposing and deteriorating ties with Washington can never be favourable. The attempts of PTI-led government to blame the US for the domestic situation is undiplomatic and a matter of grave concerns.

The costs are no small matter: entirely losing the US means losing the Western world. The volume of Pakistan’s trade and business with the US and the EU is around US$ 25 billion. The shares of imports are greater than the exports. Worsening ties with Washington means a deteriorating national economy and decreased political influence in the region as well as globally.

Moreover, Pakistan is still on the FATF Grey List. The European Union has also been discussing the GSP Plus status of Pakistan. The regional security situation is changing rapidly. The US is the biggest country that support Pakistan militarily. Moreover, a large volume of remittances come from expatriates in the US.

So is PM Imran Khan’s current narrative beneficial for Pakistan’s long- or short-term interests?

Economically, Pakistan is a dependent state, and unable to bear the brunt of any sanctions and worsened relations with the US and the EU. The statements of Imran Khan, the myopic thinking of so-called ‘patriots’ and retired generals will further disturb our global image.

Under Mr. Khan, Pakistan’s foreign policy seems to have failed in terms of balancing ties with global blocs and their politics. The unnecessary and uncalculated visit to Russia, and undiplomatic statements on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, all have placed serious question-marks on the direction of Pakistani diplomatic and strategic maneuvres.

Instead of remaining neutral like India, Pakistan tried again has gone in the direction of picking sides which is, unquestionably, wrong. Neutrality is the only option with Pakistan to choose.

Pakistan is on the brink of economic challenges, political instability and strategic failure. The vibrant and dark cloudy political scenarios are threats to democracy. In such critical times, blaming the international community for threatening Pakistan’s government will prove hazardous, and can lead to irreversible challenges at regional and global level.

Rahim Nasar is an Islamabad-based security and political analyst. He tweets @RahimNasari