Recent revelations have shed light on a diplomatic conversation that has fueled speculation regarding the ousting of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan. While the United States denied involvement in his removal from power, a leaked diplomatic cable, known as the “American cipher,” has surfaced, triggering debates about the extent of international influence on Pakistan’s political landscape.
The Story of American Cipher
The crux of this revelation lies within a diplomatic cable, unveiled by The Intercept, which documents a meeting between American officials and Islamabad’s ambassador to the U.S., Asad Majeed Khan. This conversation allegedly transpired on 7th March 2022; the leaked cable suggests that the U.S. State Department encouraged Ambassador Khan to relay a message to Pakistan’s military: If Prime Minister Imran Khan was to be removed from office due to his neutral stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this move could potentially result in improved relations between Islamabad and Washington.
This revelation has raised questions about the influence of external actors in shaping domestic political decisions. Despite the State Department’s assertion that it only expressed concerns about Khan’s policy choices, the leaked cable has fueled suspicions of broader, behind-the-scenes involvement in Pakistan’s leadership changes.
Imran Khan’s Response
Imran Khan, who had consistently held up the cipher as evidence of international meddling, responded with a mix of defiance and pragmatism. He emphasized the reality of the diplomatic conversation, acknowledging its past significance while also emphasizing the need to move forward for the greater interest of Pakistan. Khan’s allegations regarding U.S. and military involvement in his ousting have prompted discussions about the balance of power and influence within the country.
The aftermath of this revelation saw the national security committee condemning what it perceived as foreign interference. Imran Khan’s subsequent removal from office through a no-confidence vote and his replacement by Shehbaz Sharif raised questions about the authenticity of the cipher’s claims and the role of external factors in Pakistan’s political dynamics. State Department spokesman Mathew Miller said; “I can’t speak to whether it’s an actual Pakistani document. … With respect to the comments that were reported, I am not going to speak to private diplomatic exchanges.”