The Intercept published an article on 9th August 2023, authored by Ryan Grim and Murtaza Hussain titled “SECRET PAKISTAN CABLE DOCUMENTS U.S. PRESSURE TO REMOVE IMRAN KHAN”. Founded in 2014, The Intercept is an American Online non-profit news organisation. The Intercept has won several awards for its work in “public interest” journalism.
THE U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT encouraged the Pakistani government in a March 7, 2022, meeting to remove Imran Khan as prime minister over his neutrality on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to a classified Pakistani government document obtained by The Intercept.
The meeting, between the Pakistani ambassador to the United States and two State Department officials, has been the subject of intense scrutiny, controversy, and speculation in Pakistan over the past year and a half, as supporters of Khan and his military and civilian opponents jockeyed for power. The political struggle escalated on August 5 when Khan was sentenced to three years in prison on corruption charges and taken into custody for the second time since his ouster. Khan’s defenders dismiss the charges as baseless. The sentence also blocks Khan, Pakistan’s most popular politician, from contesting elections expected in Pakistan later this year.
... The text of the Pakistani cable, produced from the meeting by the ambassador and transmitted to Pakistan, has not previously been published. The cable, known internally as a “cypher,” reveals both the carrots and the sticks that the State Department deployed in its push against Khan, promising warmer relations if Khan was removed, and isolation if he was not.
... The day before the meeting, Khan addressed a rally and responded directly to European calls that Pakistan rally behind Ukraine. “Are we your slaves?” Khan thundered to the crowd. “What do you think of us? That we are your slaves and that we will do whatever you ask of us?” he asked. “We are friends of Russia, and we are also friends of the United States. We are friends of China and Europe. We are not part of any alliance.”
The Intercept published the body of the cable as excerpted below
(... the cable includes an account of the meeting between State Department officials, including Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, and Asad Majeed Khan, who at the time was Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S.)
I had a luncheon meeting today with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Donald Lu. He was accompanied by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Les Viguerie. DCM, DA and Counsellor Qasim joined me.
At the outset, Don referred to Pakistan’s position on the Ukraine crisis and said that “people here and in Europe are quite concerned about why Pakistan is taking such an aggressively neutral position (on Ukraine), if such a position is even possible. It does not seem such a neutral stand to us.” He shared that in his discussions with the NSC, “it seems quite clear that this is the Prime Minister’s policy.”
... He (Don) said that “I think if the no-confidence vote against the Prime Minister succeeds, all will be forgiven in Washington because the Russia visit is being looked at as a decision by the Prime Minister. Otherwise, I think it will be tough going ahead. I cannot tell how this will be seen by Europe, but I suspect their reaction will be similar.” ...
... I (Ambassador Khan) told Don ...the visit to Moscow had been in the works for at least few years and was the result of a deliberative institutional process ... when the Prime Minister was flying to Moscow, Russian invasion of Ukraine had not started and there was still hope for a peaceful resolution ... I said that our position is dictated by our desire to keep the channels of communication with all sides open.
... There was also a feeling that while the U.S. expected Pakistan’s support on all issues that were important to the U.S., it did not reciprocate and we do not see much U.S. support on issues of concern for Pakistan, particularly on Kashmir.
... It seemed that the U.S. was applying different criteria for India and Pakistan ... Don was evasive and responded that Washington looked at the U.S.-India relationship very much through the lens of what was happening in China.
... I expressed the hope that the issue of the Prime Minister’s visit to Russia will not impact our bilateral ties. Don replied that “I would argue that it has already created a dent in the relationship from our perspective. Let us wait for a few days to see whether the political situation changes, which would mean that we would not have a big disagreement about this issue and the dent would go away very quickly. Otherwise, we will have to confront this issue head on and decide how to manage it.”
The Intercept article (continued/excerpted)
The State Department has previously and on repeated occasions denied that Lu urged the Pakistani government to oust the prime minister.
Khan’s removal from power after falling out with the Pakistani military... has thrown the nation of 230 million into political and economic turmoil.
... Arshad Sharif, a prominent Pakistani journalist who fled the country, was shot to death in Nairobi last October under circumstances that remain disputed. Another well-known journalist, Imran Riaz Khan, was detained by security forces at an airport this May and has not been seen since. Both had been reporting on the secret cable, which has taken on nearly mythical status in Pakistan, and had been among a handful of journalists briefed on its contents before Khan’s ouster.
... Last November, Khan himself was subject to an attempted assassination when he was shot at a political rally, in an attack that wounded him and killed one of his supporters. His imprisonment has been widely viewed within Pakistan, including among many critics of his government, as an attempt by the military to stop his party from contesting upcoming elections. Polls show that were he allowed to participate in the vote, Khan would likely win.
For years, the U.S. government’s patronage relationship with the Pakistani military, which has long acted as the real powerbroker in the country’s politics, has been seen by many Pakistanis as an impenetrable obstacle to the country’s ability to grow its economy, combat endemic corruption, and pursue a constructive foreign policy. The sense that Pakistan has lacked meaningful independence because of this relationship - which, despite trappings of democracy, has made the military an untouchable force in domestic politics - makes the charge of U.S. involvement in the removal of a popular prime minister even more incendiary.
Learn how to make ?15 million from an unpaid role – The Tony Blair Way
This story is on “Teflon” Tony Blair’s use of his role as Peace Envoy to the Middle East, to swing some very lucrative deals for himself and his paymasters.
Excerpted from Jacob Sullivan’s email to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dated September 12th, 2010; regarding the article in The Daily Mail
... Colleagues ... pending phone call with Blair later today... How Blair rescued Palestine deal worth $200m to his paymasters. By David Rose - Tony Blair mounted an intense political lobbying campaign to rescue a struggling mobile-phone business owned by a client of the bank that pays him a ?2 million annual salary. The firm, Wataniya, had already built a brand-new network in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank. But it almost collapsed before launching its service, jeopardising a ?450 million investment, because Israel's government was refusing to let it use the frequencies it needed to operate. Acting in his capacity as the international Middle East peace envoy, Mr Blair helped to save the company by spending months putting pressure on Israel's Prime Minister and his colleagues in a bid to change their minds.
An investigation by The Mail on Sunday revealed:
? Mr Blair spoke of the need to get Wataniya up and running in order to boost the Palestinian economy. However, JP Morgan, the American investment bank that employs him as a consultant, has a financial stake in Wataniya through Wataniya's owner, the Qatari firm Qtel, which is an important client of JP Morgan.
? Financial documents show that back in 2007, JP Morgan had been one of four 'mandated lead arrangers' of a $2 billion loan with which Qtel bought Wataniya from its original Kuwaiti owners. Last year, the bank joined a syndicate that lent Qtel a further $500 million and became a 'lead arranger' for a Qtel bond issue which raised yet another $1.5billion.
In these deals, JP Morgan would have been paid many millions of pounds in fees, and if the loans had gone bad, could have been exposed to substantial losses. 'Its original exposure was probably around $200 million,' one Wall Street expert said yesterday. Last night a bank spokesman refused to comment, or to disclose any further details. He did not deny that Qtel was a significant JP Morgan client. A spokesman for Mr Blair said he had no knowledge of any connection between JP Morgan and Qtel. Mr Blair's lobbying campaign also helped to enrich the family of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas —a central figure in the search for Middle East peace ... Mr Blair's envoy role —for which, as he has often boasted, he is not paid a salary —has now been enhanced ... Mr Blair faced calls to publish full details of the myriad business interests that have netted him a personal fortune estimated to be at least ?15 million since he left office. He is paid not only by JP Morgan but also by the insurance giant Zurich, and his own private consulting firm, Tony Blair Associates, counts among its clients the royal families of Abu Dhabi and Kuwait. A frequent visitor to Libya, he has used his personal friendship with the dictator Colonel Gaddafi to explore business opportunities there on behalf of JP Morgan. Mr Blair was appointed an envoy on leaving Downing Street in June 2007. He represents the 'Quartet' —the United Nations, the US, the EU and Russia. His special area of responsibility is the Palestinian economy. With ten rooms permanently booked at Jerusalem's most expensive hotel, the American Colony, at an annual cost of ?1.1 million, he spends a few days there each month. As The Mail on Sunday reported last year, many Palestinian businessmen say his achievements have been limited. Projects he has loudly supported—such as an international business park near the holy city of Hebron - have come to nothing. 'But Wataniya is the great exception,' one leading West Bank entrepreneur said yesterday. 'Indeed, until he finally managed to sort it out at the end of last year, it was difficult to get him to engage with anything else.' ... amid fierce local controversy, Wataniya managed to secure special additional loans from a US government programme that had been set up to help Palestinian farmers and small businesses. Launching this programme in 2007, the State Department said it was aimed at 'an olive grower who wants to expand operations, a young person with a small information technology company, or someone who wants to hire neighbours to produce and export Palestinian embroidery' —not a ?450 million mobile network. The US loans to Wataniya, though worth a relatively modest ?11 million, deprived other enterprises of them. Critics pointed to the fact that involved with Wataniya were leading members of the Palestinian elite around Mr Abbas. Its Palestine chairman is Mohammad Mustafa - his financial adviser and closest associate, who accompanies him on virtually every foreign trip. A senior Israeli official said last week: 'In the meetings he had with the Prime Minister, he brought it up time and time again, and kept pushing, pushing. Another Israeli source confirmed that Mr Blair repeatedly raised the matter in meetings with Israel's defence minister, Ehud Barak. Mr Blair made several public statements about the Wataniya frequency dispute and did not mention JP Morgan at all. The Mail on Sunday asked Mr Blair's spokesman Matthew Doyle whether he had declared the bank's interest in his meetings with the Israelis. He replied in an email, saying only: 'Tony Blair raised Wataniya at the request of the Palestinian Authority in his role as Quartet Representative. He has no knowledge of any connection between QTel and JP Morgan and has never discussed the issue with JP Morgan nor have they ever raised it with him. Any suggestion that he raised it for any reason other than the one stated to help the Palestinians or that in some way he has benefited from Wataniya is untrue and defamatory.' Critics Of the Wataniya mobile- phone project backed so strongly by Tony Blair claim it is marred by a longstanding feature of the Palestinian scene - cronyism, in which close associates of the ruling Fatah party leadership somehow manage to derive lucrative benefits. In the case of Wataniya, the link could hardly be closer - for one big beneficiary of the firm's investments is none other than Tarek Abbas, the son of the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. American-educated Tarek runs Sky, the West Bank's biggest advertising agency. Last year, it was awarded a contract to be Wataniya's lead advertising agent, with both a monthly retainer and further payments for individual campaigns. Nevertheless, the outcome means that as Tony Blair takes part in the renewed search for a peace deal, both sides will know that his support for Wataniya has produced sizeable benefits for President Abbas's family and friends.