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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Regime Change Attempt

The history of American interventions and regime change pursuits in other countries is too well established though, yet a recapitulation is necessitated in view of the current political impasse in Pakistan due an unprecedented fight back by the elected Prime Minister Imran Khan. Since the 19th century, the United States government has participated and interfered, both overtly and covertly, in the replacement of several foreign governments. In the latter half of the 19th century, the U.S. government initiated actions for regime change mainly in Latin America and the southwest Pacific, including the Spanish–American and Philippine–American wars. At the onset of the 20th century, the United States shaped or installed governments in many countries around the world, including neighbors Panama, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic.

During World War II, the United States helped overthrow many Nazi German or Imperial Japanese regimes. Other examples include regimes in the Philippines, Korea, the Eastern portion of China, and much of Europe. Subsequently, the United States expanded the geographic scope of its actions beyond the traditional area of operations, Central America and the Caribbean. Significant operations included the United States and United Kingdom-orchestrated 1953 Iranian coup d'état, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion targeting Cuba, and support for the overthrow of Sukarno by General Suharto in Indonesia. In addition, the U.S. has interfered in the national elections of countries, including Italy in 1948, the Philippines in 1953, and Japan in the 1950s and 1960s as well as Lebanon in 1957. According to one study, the U.S. performed at least 81 overt and covert known interventions in foreign elections during the period 1946–2000. Another study found that the U.S. engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change during the Cold War.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States has led or supported wars to determine the governance of a number of countries. The stated U.S. aims in these conflicts have included fighting the War on Terror, as in the Afghan War that with forced involvement of Pakistan, or removing self-declared dictatorial and hostile regimes on flimsy grounds, as in the Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Syrian War. Speaking purely about Pakistan, the intrigues that commenced with assassination of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali khan on October 16, 1951 fast forwarded to murder of yet another Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on 27 December 2007 at the same venue in Rawalpindi Pakistan; sadly state inquiries of both cases were kept under wraps and justice remained wanting. The removal of President Ayub Khan through a coloured revolution of its own time in 1969 after his book addressed to the American “Friends not Masters”, soon resulted in loss of East Pakistan in December 1971 and rise of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto as prime minister. However, Bhutto also met unfortunate end sooner than later in 1977 for pursuing Pakistan nuclear programme, holding OIC Summit in Pakistan and finally on charges of murdering his political opponent. His successor President General Zia-ul-Haq was also killed in a mysterious air crash in 1988 for becoming too strong to unify the OIC and pushing up Pakistan's nuclear programme in defiance to the West. President General Pervez Musharraf also got removed from the political scene as soon as he was considered unable to deliver on the ever expanding Western do more lists.

The opposing winds to Prime Minister Imran Khan started getting stronger from October/ November 2021 as media created a lot of hype on purported tiff between Rawalpindi and Banigala on posting of DG ISI. From the same period onwards, the unparalleled and excessive fraternization by American diplomats with opposition and government’s allies in the parliament as covered by the national media, finally led to a situation where dozens of politicians from PTI and allied parties were reported to have been bribed with hefty money and cocooned in Sindh House, MNA Hostel and Marriott hotel Islamabad… Ironically all venues are a few hundred meters from the parliament houses, the apex courts, election commission of Pakistan and some leading media houses. The alleged sale and purchase continued for weeks without law of the land coming into motion to develop required evidence and apprehend the sacred votes and unsacred soul sellers. The opposition after buying or allying required a number of assembly members, moved a non-confidence motion (NCM) in the national assembly and then surfaced a cable of Pakistan ambassador in USA, discussed in much delayed National Security Committee on 28th March and subsequently a demarche was issued to US embassy in Pakistan. On 3rd April 2022, the deputy speaker national assembly and the Prime Minister successfully used the notion of hostile foreign interference as the main political argument to dismiss the NCM and dissolve the National Assembly. The apex court decision has just come setting a new precedence of treating the Speaker, the prime minister, the president and the national assembly as school kids and over ruling the speaker's ruling and prsedient's orders; controversial to say the least as parliament became subservient to the court instead of the otherway round as per the constitution. Politics in Pakisan is in a flux and the country on the edge of pthe recipice.

“Is foreign intervention into the domestic political affairs and governance of Pakistan, a reality”, is the query that needs to be explored in the light of above stated facts. Seeing the development of events leading to the current political mayhem, the answer ought to be a big yes. The regime change efforts in Pakistan is a constant factor that we have lived with since 1948. The most recent example of such an effort was seen in Kazakhstan, which was defeated in cooperation with Russia. However, in the existing Pakistan case, the outgoing Prime Minister should have timely initiated a thorough probe as regards meetings and provision of foreign funding and its further distribution to saleable commodities in Pakistan. The turncoats and politicians alleged to be working in nexus with hostile countries/ agencies should have been apprehended by the concerned agencies and put to trial instead of desperate dissolution of the National Assembly. As regards the diplomatic cable, after immediate discussion in NSC the response should have taken a couple of days to respond through diplomatic channels instead of waving it in the public procession. Nevertheless, whether the threat or statement of preference for regime change is there in the said cable or not is for the NSC and now probably the court to determine rather than making a mystery out of it. During his recent visit to India, the American assistant secretary of state Donald Lu was asked by an Indian journalist a specific question for threatening Pakistan with a regime change, which he did not deny. Lu’s response to the American senator about Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstaining from voting against Russia also provides some pointers towards American anger.

As of now, the American spokesperson is denying the allegations by Imran Khan’s government and the Russian spokesperson is condemning the American regime change attempt in Pakistan. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan’ strategic alliance with China, CPEC project, refusal to give military bases or enhanced covert footprints in Pakistan after exit from Afghanistan, rejection to budge on Pakistan’s strategic Nuclear and missile capabilities, non-acceptance of dictation on India and Kashmir, PM’s long awaited but ill-timed visit to Russia, abstaining from voting in the UNO against Russian invasion of Ukraine and holding of OIC Conference are the same thorns in the eyes of the West that had cost lives and governments to the above mentioned previous civil and military rulers in Pakistan. A defiant and self-respecting leader in Pakistan or in the Islamic world therefore has to be on the hit list of the West as comprehensively covered in the “Confessions of Economic Hit man” by John Perkins and further vindicated by WikiLeaks, Edward Snowden papers and Panama papers….all successfully experimented by USA and allies to create and use corrupt billionaires. We should be thankful to Almighty Allah if the current political gridlock could usher Pakistan into a real sovereign state despite inadequacies of contesting hostile strategy with awkward tactics. Despite all out efforts by the tainted politicians to drag the Army yet again into a contaminated political quagmire, the Pakistan Army has done well to stay clear and not allow the enemies to target the national center of gravity. Nevertheless, irrespective of who is in the government, the national security apparatus remains responsible for defeating any regime change efforts in Pakistan considering it as an invasion of national sovereignty. Finally, the international strategic imperative of gaining and maintaining diversity and multi-polarity in state policies should neither be under-estimated nor brushed aside by obsolete notions.

5th April 2022

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