PM Shahbaz Sharif (C) chairs the National Security Committee meeting in Islamabad on Friday. AP
Pakistan's National Security Committee (NSC) on Friday said that there was no foreign conspiracy to topple the Imran Khan-led government, according to a statement released after a meeting of the premier body.
“The NSC, chaired by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, discussed the telegram received from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington. Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Asad Majeed briefed the committee on the context and content of his telegram,” the statement stated.
The NSC is the highest forum for co-ordination on security.
It was attended by Asad Majeed, ministers for defence, energy, information and broadcasting, interior, finance, human rights, planning, development and special initiatives, chairman joint chiefs of staff committee, services chiefs, and senior officers.
Imran, 69, who led the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 220 million people for three and a half years, had accused Washington of backing a conspiracy to remove him.
He had said that he visited Moscow against US advice. Washington denies the charge.
According to the statement, the NSC examined the “contents of the communication” shared by the ambassador and “reaffirmed the decisions of the last NSC meeting.”
“The NSC was again informed by the premier security agencies that they have found no evidence of any conspiracy,” the statement said, adding that the meeting concluded that “there has been no foreign conspiracy.”
Asad Majeed, former Pakistan ambassador to the United States who had written a cable to Islamabad about Washington's take on Khan's Moscow visit, briefed the NSC.
Imran Khan gestures as he addresses supporters during a rally in Lahore. Reuters
"The NSC after reviewing the contents of the communication, the assessment received, and the conclusion presented by the security agencies, concludes that there has been no conspiracy," a statement from the office of new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.
It said the country's premier spy agencies informed the NSC that they found no evidence to support any conspiracy theory. Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party demanded a judicial probe into the matter.
The ousted leader met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24, the day Russian forces invaded neighbouring Ukraine.
Imran Khan initially blocked the no-confidence move, saying the NSC had endorsed the alleged conspiracy.
Imran first spoke of the cable and brandished it at a public rally on March 27. He said it carried details of the ambassador’s meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu in which the latter allegedly threatened Pakistan.
Imran and his party linked the purported threat with the no-trust move against him in the National Assembly that led to his ouster from the top office.
Majeed, in the cable, reportedly said Lu warned that Imran’s continuation as the prime minister would have repercussions for bilateral relations. The US, Imran claimed, was annoyed with his “independent foreign policy” and visit to Moscow.
The oath was administered by the chairman of Pakistan's Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, in the absence of President Arif Alvi, a member of Imran's party, who said he was unwell.
Imran said that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif had said that if the conspiracy will be proved, he would stand by his side, adding that Shahbaz does not need to stand by his side, but should apologise to him.
Candidates for Pakistan's next prime minister are due to file nomination papers on Sunday after incumbent Imran Khan lost a no-confidence vote in parliament, bringing an end to the former cricket star's nearly four years in power.
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