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Nuclear-armed states spent $82.4bn on nukes in 2021, US topped list: Report

Press TV – June 15, 2022

The world’s nine nuclear-armed countries – led by the US – spent $82.4 billion upgrading their atomic arsenal in 2021, eight percent more than the previous year, an anti-nuke campaign group has unveiled.

The largest spender by far was the United States, which accounted for more than half the total expenditures on nuclear weapons – followed respectively by China, Russia, Britain, France, India, the Israeli regime, Pakistan and North Korea – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) stated in its annual report, titled “Squandered: 2021 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending.”

“Nuclear-armed states spent an obscene amount of money on illegal weapons of mass destruction in 2021, while the majority of the world’s countries support a global nuclear weapons ban,” the group said in the report, noting that the massive spending nevertheless failed to prevent a war in Europe.

“This spending failed to deter a war in Europe and squandered valuable resources that could be better used to address current security challenges, or cope with the outcome of a still raging global pandemic,” ICAN said. “This corrupt cycle of wasteful spending must be put to an end.”

The group said atomic arms producers had further spent millions of dollars on political lobbying efforts, saying that every $1 spent on lobbying had led to an average of $256 in new contracts involving nuclear weaponry.

“The exchange of money and influence, from countries to companies to lobbyists and think tanks, sustains and maintains a global arsenal of catastrophically destructive weapons,” it said.

The US spent $44.2 billion on atomic weaponry in 2021, followed by China’s $11.7 billion, Russia’s $8.6 billion, the UK’s $6.8 billion, and France’s $5.9 billion, according to the report. India led the more recent nuclear arms developers in expenditures on the mass-destructive weaponry, spending $2.3 billion, followed by the Israeli regime’s $1.2 billion, Pakistan’s $1.1 billion and North Korea’s $642 million.

The report came a week after US-led NATO alliance declared that it did not offer a guarantee to Russia that it would not deploy nuclear weapons on the territories of its two prospective new members, Finland and Sweden.

ICAN’s report further confirmed a statement released by the prominent Stockholm International Peace Research (SIPRI) a day earlier in which it had warned that all the nine nuclear-armed states were increasing or upgrading their arsenals, and that the risk of deployment of such weapons appeared higher now than at any time since the height of the Cold War.

While there is no official confirmation on the amount North Korea spends on nuclear weapons or its arsenal, SIPRI estimates that it possesses as many as 20 warheads.

The Israeli regime, along with India, Pakistan, and South Sudan have never joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), an international treaty purportedly established to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

As of August 2016, 191 states have become parties to the NPT, though North Korea, which acceded in 1985, announced its withdrawal from the treaty in 2003, following detonation of nuclear devices in violation of core obligations.

Critics of the treaty insist, however, that the NPT cannot stop the proliferation of nuclear arms or the motivation to acquire them, arguing that the biggest possessors and developers of atomic weapons are leading members of the global accord. Officials of the treaty have been selective in enforcing nuclear disarmament, imposing sanctions on observant member nations, such as Iran, while ignoring certain atomic arms possessor and developers such as India, Pakistan, and the Israeli regime, which is widely believe to possess at least 300 nuclear warheads.

June 15, 2022 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan’s ousted PM issues ultimatum

Imran Khan will march with millions into the capital unless elections are held in six days

Samizdat | May 26, 2022

Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan warned the country’s government on Thursday that he will march on the capital with millions of people in six days unless provincial assemblies are dissolved and new elections are held by that time.

Khan issued the ultimatum during a rally of thousands of demonstrators in Islamabad, where he called for the “imported government” to be brought down, insisting it is backed by foreign powers.

A former cricket star-turned-politician, Khan served as Pakistan’s prime minister for over three and a half years before being ousted in a no-confidence vote by parliament last month. He insists that his removal from office was orchestrated by the US in collusion with members of the current government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Khan has suggested that he received threats from US officials over his refusal to bow to Washington’s demands and support the sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

Since his ousting, Khan has staged several rallies across the country, calling on “all Pakistanis” to take to the streets to “send a message across Pakistan that the nation has rejected this imported government.”

On Wednesday, Khan stated that he would take part in a sit-in demonstration in the center of Islamabad along with thousands of supporters until his demands are met. However, on Thursday morning, after the authorities called in the military to protect the city center, he said he would leave Islamabad, threatening to return with “the whole nation” in six days if new elections are not held.

He went on to accuse the government of taking the nation “towards anarchy” and trying to create a divide between the people and the police.

“I had decided that I will sit here until the government dissolves assemblies and announces elections, but of what I have seen in the past 24 hours, they (government) are taking the nation towards anarchy,” he was quoted as saying by Dawn news website.

Khan condemned the government for trying to silence and intimidate peaceful protesters by raiding their homes and arresting people who took part in his party’s march.

“Government has tried every method to crush our Azadi March, they used teargas on peaceful protest, our homes were raided and privacy of the homes were violated; however, I have seen the nation free itself of fear of slavery,” he said.

Khan noted that three protesters lost their lives during demonstrations in Karachi, while two others were thrown off a bridge and thousands of others were arrested after some of the demonstrations in the country turned violent.

On Wednesday, the ousted PM called on his supporters to assemble at D-Chowk – a town square located near several vital government buildings – and to not vacate the square until the ‘imported government’ announces new elections.

After thousands of protesters started pouring in, the government of Pakistan authorized the deployment of military troops to protect its headquarters in the capital. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted that the army will be deployed to protect key government buildings in Islamabad’s Red Zone, such as the Supreme Court, Parliament House, and diplomatic enclaves like the US Embassy.

The government headed by Prime Minister Sharif had pledged to stop Khan’s supporters from entering the capital, calling their rally an attempt to “divide the nation and promote chaos.” The authorities even set up dozens of shipping containers and cargo trucks to block the roads to Islamabad ahead of Wednesday’s marches.

“Politics of dharna [sit-in] is detrimental to progress and stability,” Sharif tweeted on Wednesday.

May 26, 2022 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | | 1 Comment

US’ coercive diplomacy with Saudi Arabia

BY M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | INDIAN PUNCHLINE | MAY 6, 2022

Some three weeks after the reported meeting of the CIA chief William Burns with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Prince Mohammed bin Sultan, the OPEC+ ministerial held a videoconference on Thursday. 

The OPEC+ meet drew satisfaction that “continuing oil market fundamentals and the consensus on the outlook pointed to a balanced market.” The press release issued in Vienna says the ministerial “further noted the continuing effects of geopolitical factors and issues related to the ongoing pandemic” and decided that the OPEC+ sticks to the monthly production adjustment mechanism agreed in July last year “to adjust upward the monthly overall production by 0.432 million barrels/day for the month of June 2022.” 

As per the former publisher of the Journal Karen Elliott House, Burns came to Saudi Arabia for a “mating dance” with Prince Mohammad — namely, the Prince must cooperate on a new oil-for-security strategy to “increase production to save European nations from energy shortages.” 

Burns’ visit to the Kingdom took place just ahead of the 5th round of Saudi-Iranian normalisation talks in Baghdad between the Saudi intelligence chief and the deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. The Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi who was acting as mediator and attended the latest round of talks told the state media last week, “Our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Iran approach the dialogue with a big responsibility as demanded by the current regional situation. We are convinced that reconciliation is near.” 

Nournews, affiliated to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, also reported on April 24 that the fifth round of talks on a possible détente was “constructive” and the negotiators managed “to draw a clearer picture” of how to resume bilateral relations, and, “given the constructive bilateral dialogue so far, there is a possibility of a meeting between the Iranian and Saudi top diplomats in the near future.” 

Burns’ mission couldn’t have been indifferent toward the Saudis’ reconciliation track with Tehran. With the outcome of the JCPOA talks in Vienna uncertain, Iran’s close ties with Russia and China remains a major worry for Washington. And with Tehran’s stubborn refusal to trim its regional policies to suit US regional strategies, Washington has fallen back on the default option to resuscitate the anti-Iran front of its regional allies. The US hopes that Saudi Arabia will come on board the Abraham Accords. 

Meanwhile, the issue of oil prices has returned to the centre stage. Indeed, high oil prices mean high income for Russia. Russia’s sales of oil and natural gas far exceeded initial forecasts for 2021 as a result of skyrocketing prices, accounting for 36% of the country’s total budget. The revenues exceeded initial plans by 51.3%, totalling  $119 billion. The Biden administration’s best-laid plans to cripple the Russian economy are unravelling. Equally, high oil price is also a domestic issue for Biden. Above all, unless Europe finds other oil sources, it will continue buying Russian oil. 

However, Prince Mohammad has a different agenda. He is likely to rule Saudi Arabia for many decades—half a century if he lives to 86, his father’s age. And the Prince has been remarkably successful in creating a “power base”. His lifestyle changes have been a smashing hit with Saudis 35 and under—70% of the Kingdom’s citizens — and his ambition to transform Saudi Arabia into a modern technological leader ignites the imagination of the youth. 

Clearly, his refusal to punish Russia and his gesture to place the princely amount of $2bn in a new, untested investment fund started by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner speak for themselves. Prince Mohammed would have his own reasons too, starting with Biden’s contemptuous reference to Saudi Arabia as a “Pariah” state and refusal to deal in person. 

The Prince hit back recently by declining to take a call from Joe Biden. Besides, the US’ restrictions on arms sales; insufficient response to attacks on Saudi Arabia by Houthi forces; publication of a report into the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi — all these are in play here. 

Even if the administration is able to get Congressional approval for new security guarantees for Saudi Arabia (which is rather problematic), Prince Mohammad may not be swayed, since at the end of the day, high oil prices boost Saudi budget too. 

The paradox is, both Saudi Arabia and Russia are stakeholders in OPEC+ as is evident from the explicit warning to the EU by OPEC Secretary General Mohammad Barkindo last month that it would be impossible to replace more than 7 million barrels per day of Russian oil and other liquids exports potentially lost due to current or future sanctions or voluntary actions. 

In such a torrential stream where crosscurrents are foaming and weltering, what probably unnerves the Biden Administration most could be the talk that Chinese President Xi Jinping may be planning to visit Saudi Arabia, amidst persistent reports recently that Riyadh and Beijing are in talks to price some of the Gulf nation’s oil sales in yuan rather than dollars, which would indeed mark a profound shift for the oil market and help advance China’s efforts to convince more countries and international investors to transact in its currency. 

The Saudi explanation for the shift to the yuan is that the kingdom could use part of new currency revenues to pay Chinese contractors involved in mega projects within the kingdom domestically, which would reduce the risks associated with the capital controls Beijing imposes on its currency. But, for Washington, that means certain sensitive Saudi-China transactions in yuan do not appear in the rearview mirror of the SWIFT messaging infrastructure, making transaction monitoring unviable.  

There are persistent US reports that with Chinese support, Saudi Arabia may be constructing a new uranium processing facility near Al Ula to enhance its pursuit of nuclear technology. Saudi Arabia’s generous $8 billion in financial support for Pakistan, unveiled this week, will almost certainly raise hiccups in Washington. 

Saudi Arabia is a central pillar of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative and ranks in the top three countries globally for Chinese construction projects, according to the China Global Investment Tracker, run by the American Enterprise Institute. Suffice to say, the CIA chief’s call could not have been for a friendly chat with Prince Mohammad. 

May 6, 2022 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | 2 Comments

Will Khan’s ousting be Pakistan’s Mosaddegh moment?

By Omar Ahmed | MEMO | April 14, 2022

The US and British governments denied their roles in the 1953 coup against Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mosaddegh, for decades. Although western complicity in the toppling of Iran’s government was common knowledge, it was only in 2013 that America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) finally admitted its involvement in the coup. It was the first time that the agency had overthrown a foreign government successfully, but not the last.

According to a declassified document, “The military coup… was carried out under CIA direction as an act of US foreign policy.” Two main issues are said to have been behind the covert operation: oil and communism.

The populist leader Mosaddegh’s decision to nationalise the country’s oil industry in 1951 deprived the British-owned Anglo-Iranian Oil Company of revenue; it had been taking the lion’s share of Iran’s oil income. The company is known today as BP. Washington was worried about the continued flow of oil and the Mosaddegh government’s ability to function independently. In those early days of the Cold War, there was also the fear of a communist takeover by the Tudeh Party, which did not always see eye to eye with the nationalist prime minister’s policies.

Mosaddegh was a very popular prime minister. A year before the coup he resigned over disagreements with Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlevi about who should appoint the minister of war. His replacement, Ahmad Qavam, lacked the same broad popular support and mass demonstrations called for Mosaddegh’s reinstatement. The shah buckled under pressure and agreed.

Nevertheless, despite such popular support, by going against foreign interests Mosaddegh simply had to go. After an initial plot to remove the prime minister failed, the shah fled the country. However, the US-funded conspiracy eventually succeeded; Mosaddegh was ousted and replaced by a handpicked general, Fazlollah Zahedi, who reinstalled an increasingly autocratic shah.

Tried on treason charges and sentenced to three years imprisonment, the 72-year-old Mosaddegh remained under house arrest until his death in 1967. During his trial, he said that, “My greatest sin is that I nationalised Iran’s oil industry and discarded the system of political and economic exploitation by the world’s greatest empire.”

The shah would rule as an absolute monarch until he himself was overthrown by a populist revolution in 1979, which under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s guidance became the Islamic Revolution. The 1953 coup remains ingrained in the country’s collective memory as it was instrumental in setting Iran on a course towards being a pro-Western dictatorship and then an anti-American theocracy.

In the words of Stephen Kinzer, the author of All The Shah’s Men: An American Coup And The Roots of Middle East Terror, “The 1979 revolution was a long-term effect of the increasing repression from the shah, who came to power as a result of the coup. That Islamic Revolution brought to power a fanatically anti-American regime that has spent more than 30 years working to undermine American interests all over the world.”

Today, in the neighbouring Islamic Republic of Pakistan there is a risk of Iran’s experience being replicated to some extent following the “soft coup” on Saturday which ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan after a tumultuous few weeks. He lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence, having been found to have acted against the constitution in seeking to avoid the motion.

Khan’s claims of a US-backed conspiracy to remove him from power, as happened to Mosaddegh, was denied by both Washington and the pro-West Pakistani military. Crucially, Khan fell out with the latter amid reports that he was seeking to replace senior officers. His relationship with the US was damaged by his realignment of Pakistan to get closer to Russia and China.

Hard evidence to support Khan’s allegations is difficult to find, other than a diplomatic cable sent in March following his historic visit to Moscow. Yet, given the CIA’s regime change track record, can there be smoke without fire?

Last year, in an interview with Axios, Khan was adamant that Pakistan will “absolutely not” allow the CIA to use bases within the country for cross-border operations in Afghanistan. This was a bold departure from the previous two decades of support for the US “war on terror”.

As recently as last month, Western diplomats published an open letter calling on Pakistan to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Khan criticised the move while asserting Pakistan’s sovereignty. During a public meeting he asked rhetorically, “Are we your [the West’s] slaves? That whatever you say, we will do?”

His language was particularly interesting. During his trial, Mosaddegh said presciently, “I am well aware that my fate must serve as an example in the future throughout the Middle East in breaking the chains of slavery and servitude to colonial interests.”

While Khan’s overthrow was not a military coup, as Mosaddegh’s was in 1953 Iran, there have been three successful such takeovers since Pakistan’s independence in 1947; ultimately, the military is in charge of running the country. Mosaddegh’s successor in Tehran, General Zahedi, was chosen by the US and the British, and if revelations made by the late Pakistani General Hamid Gul are anything to go by, the US has a say in the appointment of the army chief of staff in Pakistan.

Since Khan’s removal from power, there have been huge rallies across the country by those who support him and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI). It is arguable that only a charismatic, cricket-legend-turned-politician could prompt such crowds, despite a survey conducted by Gallup Pakistan which found that 57 per cent of respondents approved of Khan’s ousting.

A gathering in Peshawar on Wednesday was also a show of power and popularity by Khan, who has planned a “bigger surprise” later this month in Lahore. It is evident that he is looking to bring about an early election, which was already on the agenda after Khan’s political ally, Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, dissolved parliament.

Providing that he is permitted to do so, Imran Khan will come back stronger than before, judging by the support he is receiving. His immediate opponent is the so-called “imported government” of his successor Shehbaz Sharif who, like his brother and former Prime Minister Nawaz, has faced numerous charges of corruption and money laundering. Sharif’s appointment represents a return to Pakistan’s domestic politics being dominated by two dynasties with a history of looting the country. This new government, it is said, “Will start its term with great unpopularity and under a serious crisis of legitimacy.” The same claim was made about Mosaddegh’s successor Ahmad Qavam.

Khan’s leadership was not without its faults. As difficult as it would be, more should have been done to rein in the disproportionate power enjoyed by the military and prevent the potential for another military coup.

The elephant in the room, of course, is Pakistan’s economy and inflation, the highest in South Asia. Mismanagement of the economy was what led to the no-confidence vote.

In the event of social and political unrest in the days ahead, the economy will take a hit. Faced with a British-imposed embargo, Mosaddegh also faced an economic crisis, yet he maintained that, “The moral aspect of oil nationalisation is more important than its economic aspect.” Should Khan or the PTI return to power, a principled stance informed by national sovereignty and self-interest may also trump any prospect of short-term economic gains.

Khan has repeatedly vowed to “fight till the last ball” and — to take the cricket analogy further — has not yet been bowled out. As part of its inquiry into the matter, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has reportedly received the “threat letter” sent by the US, in which it is said that Pakistan would face strict sanctions if the no-confidence motion failed.

As with the 1953 coup in Iran, we may only find out whether Khan’s ousting was indeed Pakistan’s “Mosaddegh moment”. If it was, we can expect a more overtly anti-American foreign policy by successive governments in Pakistan and greater distrust of the West. It is also worth remembering that the coup preceded, if not inspired, a revolution. Any short-term gains from Khan’s removal may have serious medium- to long-term consequences.

April 14, 2022 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Imran Khan loses no-confidence vote

Samizdat | April 9, 2022

Pakistan’s National Assembly has passed a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday, with 176 lawmakers out of 342 voting against him. The speaker of the parliament’s lower house Asad Qaisar, who is also a member of Khan’s party, announced his resignation after adjourning the house three times throughout Saturday.

Khan PTI’s party effectively lost its majority in the National Assembly in March when seven MPs from its coalition partner decided to join the opposition’s ranks. The rivals accused the cricket star-turned-politician of mismanaging Pakistan’s economy, battered by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as mishandling Islamabad’s foreign and internal policy.

Sunday’s motion means that Khan’s five-year term has ended early, much like that of all previous prime ministers of the country.

The opposition will now put forward their own candidate to replace Khan as PM. On March 21, Maryam Nawaz, the vice president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party – the country’s leading opposition force – told journalists that the party had nominated Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate for the office, which was confirmed by Sharif himself on Thursday.

Khan, in turn, had previously claimed that the opposition was doing a foreign power’s bidding, and that an “imported government” would be installed in Pakistan should he be ousted. In his Friday night address, the politician vowed that he would put up a struggle, calling on his supporters to take to the streets.

Khan previously pointed the finger at the US, which he said wanted him gone, for his attempts to carry out an independent foreign policy and his visit to Moscow in late February. The politician claimed to have a recording from the Pakistani ambassador in Washington proving the allegations.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested that Washington was trying to “punish an unruly Imran Khan,” describing efforts to remove him from power as “yet another attempt to unashamedly interfere with a sovereign nation’s internal affairs.”

The US State Department has denied claims that it was behind the vote of no-confidence, with spokesperson Jalina Porter describing Khan’s allegations as “absolutely not true.”

April 9, 2022 Posted by | Corruption | , | 2 Comments

Interpreting The US’ Threat Of “Significant & Long-Term Consequences” For India

By Andrew Korybko | One World Press | April 7, 2022

Director of the White House National Economic Council Brian Deese told reporters on Wednesday that there will be “significant and long-term consequences” if his country assesses that India has engaged in a so-called “more explicit strategic alignment” with Russia. New Delhi has thus far impressively practiced a policy of principled neutrality towards Moscow’s ongoing special military operation in Ukraine and the New Cold War more broadly between the US on one hand and Russia and China on the other. This South Asian state is the world’s largest and most important non-aligned country that’s setting a proud example for the rest of its Global South peers. The US is afraid that countless more countries will follow India’s lead by continuing to bravely defy Washington’s unilateral hegemonic pressure to sanction Russia.

Deese’s remarks represent the most ominous American threat to India yet since ties between these two Great Powers became complicated from summer 2020 onwards into the present day. Considering the context of the rolling “South Asian Spring” regime change scenario that the US simultaneously activated against Pakistan and Sri Lanka over the weekend, his statement adds credence to suspicions that India is actually the ultimate target of this campaign. It’s unclear what “significant and long-term consequences” will befall Indian-American relations, but it certainly seems like their ties will at the very least continue deteriorating if the US continues aggressively pressuring India to sacrifice its objective national interests for its supposed partner’s sake.

The sudden onset of regional stability along India’s periphery is intended to destabilize that country itself, both immediately and over time. In the event that the Pakistan and/or Sri Lanka’s multipolar governments are replaced by American puppets, then US bases might pop up in those neighboring countries. The so-called “anti-Indian hawks” in Islamabad’s “establishment” might become emboldened to violate the year-long ceasefire with New Delhi in order to punish that country by proxy at Washington’s behest for its policy of principled neutrality. With respect to Colombo, a US naval base could threaten India’s Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOC). Washington might even use the island as a base to encourage separatist movements in Southern India.

To be absolutely clear, India is not engaging in a so-called “explicit strategic alignment” with Russia, it’s simply advancing its objective national interests by remaining neutral in the Ukrainian Conflict and refusing to sacrifice its own for America’s sake. By default, however, the zero-sum unipolar hegemonic perspective embraced by US strategists influences them to regard this balanced policy as supposedly “taking Russia’s side” in the New Cold War. This false assessment is then in turn incorporated into its policy formulation towards that country, thus resulting in Deese’s ominous threat. Given the US’ decades-long track record of betraying former partners in the worst ways possible by orchestrating regime changes and even waging Hybrid Wars against them, India should be very concerned by what he just said.

America seems to be preparing for a fundamental change in its relationship with India, which will certainly affect the balance of interests in Eurasia. Thus far, New Delhi has been doing its utmost to retain that balance between itself, Russia, and China, ergo its policy of principled neutrality in order to ensure that Moscow doesn’t become disproportionately dependent on Beijing in response to the US-led West’s unprecedented pressure campaign. Nevertheless, India also hoped to retain excellent relations with the US at the same time in order to further synchronize the geo-economic aspects of their respective Indo-Pacific strategies. This grand strategic balancing act is now at risk of becoming unbalanced if the US unilaterally decides to worsen relations with India.

The form that this could take remains unclear, but the reader should remember that an intensification of information warfare against India as well as potential economic warfare and possibly even other more dangerous forms of Hybrid Warfare can’t be discounted due to the US’ track record. Security threats will spike in the event that the Pakistani and/or Sri Lankan governments are overthrown throughout the course of the ongoing “South Asian Spring” regime change campaign that the US has unleashed throughout the region. With these forecasts in mind, it’s of the highest importance that the South Asian states seriously consider reviving the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in order to advance “regional solutions for regional problems” and thus thwart the US’ plots.

Andrew Korybko is an American political analyst.

April 7, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 6 Comments

Russia blasts ‘shameless US interference’ in Pakistan’s affairs

Press TV – April 5, 2022

Russia has blasted “another attempt of shameless interference” by the United States in the internal affairs of Pakistan, saying that Washington sought to punish a “disobedient” Prime Minister Imran Khan following his visit to Moscow on February 23-24.

The spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Maria Zakharova said in a statement issued on Monday that the political development in Pakistan “leaves no doubt” that the United States plotted to topple the government of Prime Minister Khan.

The Russian foreign office condemned the United States over its involvement in an alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Pakistani government.

“Immediately after the announcement of the working visit of Imran Khan to Moscow on February 23-24 this year, the Americans and their Western associates began to exert rude pressure on the prime minister, demanding an ultimatum to cancel the trip,” Zakharova said.

The Russian foreign office stated that US Deputy Secretary of State for South Asia Donald Lu called upon the Pakistani ambassador in Washington and subsequently called upon Ambassador Asad Majid to “condemn the balanced reaction of the Pakistani leadership to the events in Ukraine,” as evidence of American interference in Pakistan’s affairs.

“When he [Khan] nevertheless came to us, [Lu] called the Pakistani ambassador in Washington and demanded that the visit be immediately interrupted, which was also rejected,” she stated.

“According to the Pakistani media, on March 7 this year, in a conversation with Pakistani Ambassador Asad Majid, a high-ranking American official (presumably the same Donald Lu) sharply condemned the balanced reaction of the Pakistani leadership to the events in Ukraine and made it clear that partnerships with the United States are possible only if Imran Khan is removed from power,” Zakharova said.

She added that further development of the situation in Pakistan left no doubt that Washington “decided to punish the ‘disobedient’ Imran Khan,” for not condemning the Russian military action in Ukraine as was demanded by the US.

“This is another attempt of shameless US interference in the internal affairs of an independent state for its own selfish purposes. The above facts eloquently testify to this,” Zakharova said.

“The [Pakistan] prime minister himself has repeatedly stated that the conspiracy against him was inspired and financed from abroad. We hope that Pakistani voters will be informed about these circumstances when they come to the elections, which should be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly,” she said.

Addressing a large rally in the capital Islamabad last week, Prime Minister Khan accused an unnamed “foreign power” – in a clear reference to the United States – of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically-elected government.

He said the “foreign power” sent millions of dollars to opposition parties to launch a no-confidence vote against him in the parliament.

On Sunday, members of Pakistan’s parliament chanted “Death to America” as they rejected a no-confidence vote, which sought to oust Khan, saying “foreign powers” were interfering in the country’s democratic process.

The National Assembly deputy speaker dismissed the no-trust move against the prime minister, terming it as “contradictory” to Article 5 of Pakistan’s Constitution.

Suri said that the motion was presented on March 8 and should be conducted according to the law and the Constitution, stressing, “No foreign power shall be allowed to topple an elected government through a conspiracy.”

The Pakistani president later dissolved the National Assembly on Khan’s advice.

April 5, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | 6 Comments

Pakistan’s PM Khan names US diplomat behind ‘conspiracy’ to topple his government

Press TV – April 4, 2022

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday named the senior US government official behind the controversial letter that threatened to overthrow Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) government.

Addressing a meeting of party leaders in Islamabad after the no-trust motion against him was dismissed in the country’s parliament; Khan said that during the national security committee’s (NSC) meeting, foreign interference was noted in the internal politics of the country through a no-confidence motion.

He went on to mention the name of Donald Lu, the top American official dealing with South Asia in the US State Department, as the person involved in the ‘foreign conspiracy’ to topple his government.

The embattled premier claimed that Lu had warned the Pakistani envoy to the US, Asad Majeed, that there would be “implications” if Khan survived the no-trust vote in the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.

He further said that minutes of the communiqué regarding a meeting between the ambassador of Pakistan in the US and the US officials were shared in the NSC meeting.

Khan said the embassy officials of the US were also in contact with the PTI members who had defected, reiterating that the no-confidence motion against him was a “foreign conspiracy”.

On Saturday, Khan openly and defiantly held the US responsible for the “foreign conspiracy” to overthrow his government.

“Ok I’m taking the name of US, the conspiracy has been hatched with the help of America to remove me,” he told his party colleagues in Islamabad.

In a high-drama event on Sunday, the lower house of the parliament rejected the no-trust vote tabled by the opposition parties against Khan.

Deputy speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly, Qasim Suri, asserted that no foreign power will be allowed to “topple an elected government through a conspiracy,” calling the vote against the sitting premier “unconstitutional” under Article 5 of the country’s constitution.

Later, in his televised address on the state-run television, Khan congratulated the people of Pakistan and repeated that the move to overthrow him was a “foreign conspiracy.”

He also requested President Arif Alvi to dissolve the parliament under Article 58(1) of the constitution and called on the nation to gear up for a fresh election.

Talking to his party colleagues later in the day, Khan said that the opposition members were in a state of shock after the vote failed and they did not know what had happened to them.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court is set to decide whether the deputy speaker’s move to reject the opposition’s vote of no-confidence and the subsequent request by Khan to the President to dissolve the parliament is constitutional or not.

President Alvi, in a Twitter post on Monday, said Khan would stay on as prime minister in a caretaker role.

Khan’s fate is now in a state of limbo which would lead to fresh political instability in the country. The court could bar him from standing again if he is found to have acted unconstitutionally.

The relationship between the US and Pakistan has been at odds since the US’ hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan last summer.

The growing alignment between China and Pakistan also casts a shadow over US policy towards Pakistan.

April 4, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 4 Comments

Pakistani PM calls early election

Samizdat | April 3, 2022

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has called for an early election after a vote of no confidence against him was unexpectedly canceled by the parliament’s deputy speaker on Sunday.

Khan PTI’s party effectively lost its majority in the National Assembly last week when seven MPs from its coalition partner decided to join the opposition’s ranks.

The PM’s rivals insisted that this had given them a real chance of ousting Khan, who has been in office since 2018.

But the parliament’s deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri canceled the no-confidence motion brought by the opposition in a surprise move, citing “foreign interference.”

Khan, who claims there is a US-led “international conspiracy” to remove him from power, then delivered a televised address to the nation, saying it should “prepare for election.”

“You will decide the future of this nation, not the corrupt or the foreigners,” he said.

“Buying people through money” has been the reason for the current crisis, Khan said, advising those allegedly trying to depose him to “put that money in something better.”

Pakistani President Arif Alvi has dissolved the parliament after a motion by Khan. According to the country’s laws, a general election will take place within the next 90 days.

The leader of the opposition PPP party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has claimed that the government has “violated the constitution” by rejecting the no-confidence vote.

The “united opposition” is going to stage a sit-in at the National Assembly until the vote on Khan’s future takes place, he said, while also promising to challenge the decision in court.

Islamabad had summoned the American envoy to the country earlier this week after media reports claiming that Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu told the Pakistani ambassador to the US that “relations with Pakistan cannot improve” as long as Khan was in power, but the country would be “forgiven for its mistakes” if the PM were ousted through a no-confidence vote.

April 3, 2022 Posted by | Corruption | , | Leave a comment

Pakistani PM commends India

Samizdat | April 2, 2022

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has complimented regional rival India for maintaining an “independent foreign policy” amid US and allied pressure to adopt a harsher stance toward Russia.

Speaking Friday after accusing Washington of “interference” in Pakistan’s internal affairs, Khan went on to praise New Delhi’s unwillingness to go along with a barrage of sanctions and economic restrictions against Moscow.

“They protect their independent foreign policy which is centered on its people,” he said, as cited by local media. “No country is respected unless it stands on its own two feet.”

Facing a no-confidence vote on Sunday after losing his parliamentary majority following multiple defections from his party, Khan’s remark was quickly denounced by political opponents, with the leader of the opposition National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, blasting him for talking up the policy approach of Pakistan’s top adversary.

“His recurring praise for [Indian Prime Minister] Narendra Modi’s foreign policy is an insult to the sacrifices of valiant Kashmiris braving Hindutva,” he tweeted, referring to a Muslim-majority population in northern India and a form of Hindu nationalism. “Among other things, the damage done to our foreign policy is incalculable,” Sharif added.

Khan, however, quickly shot back, saying that his rivals believe his “statements will anger America” and that “Pakistan cannot survive without its support.”

“They [the United States] order us. They say that if the no-confidence motion does not become successful, there will be consequences for Pakistan,” the PM went on, arguing that his administration will not join the “bloc politics to achieve the same objectives” against Russia.

The Pakistani leader previously said a “foreign country” was seeking to remove him from office and is driving the no-confidence vote, openly naming that nation as “America,” ostensibly by accident, during a televised address on Thursday. The government also summoned the acting US envoy in Islamabad over the alleged political meddling on Friday, which it denounced as “blatant interference.”

Khan previously praised India’s “independent” policy in late March, stating that his own country, like New Delhi, would not “bow” to Western pressure to join the sanctions spree against Moscow. Despite international pressure and criticism for staying neutral, India adopted a pragmatic approach and continued purchasing Russian oil, even at a discount, to ensure the country’s own energy security.

April 2, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

Pakistan PM Imran Khan accuses US of funding ‘conspiracy’ to topple his government

Press TV – March 28, 2022

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan accused an unnamed “foreign power” – in a clear reference to the United States – of funding a “conspiracy” to topple his democratically elected government.

Addressing a large rally in the capital Islamabad on Sunday, Khan said the “foreign power” sent millions of dollars to opposition parties to launch a no-confidence vote against him in the parliament.

Khan, who had formed a coalition government after winning the election in 2018, said he was the subject of a “foreign conspiracy” aimed at dislodging his government and that “funding was being channeled into Pakistan from abroad.”

A no-confidence motion has been tabled in Pakistan’s National Assembly, with days of debates expected to start next week before the vote. The opposition needs a simple majority to oust Khan, after which a new prime minister would be chosen by the parliament.

“We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interests,” said Khan, who met with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on February 24, the same day the Russian leader ordered a military operation in neighboring Ukraine.

Before that, Khan visited Beijing in January, defying US President Joe Biden’s call for a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics.

“The money is from abroad and the people that are being used are ours (Pakistan’s). Some of them unknowingly, and some knowingly, are using this money against us,” the prime minister said.

“Attempts are being made to influence our foreign policy from abroad. We have been aware of this conspiracy for months. We also know about those who have assembled these people (the opposition parties) but the time has changed. This is not the era of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto,” he said, referring to the former prime minister of Pakistan who was allegedly threatened by former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger over the country’s nuclear program.

Bhutto’s government was toppled and he was hanged by the military in 1979.

“This is the era of social media. Nothing can be hidden. We will not accept anyone’s dictation. We will have friendships with everyone but we will not submit ourselves to anyone,” Khan said.

“Attempts are being made through foreign money to change the government in Pakistan. Our people are being used. Mostly inadvertently, but some people are using money against us. We know from what places attempts are being to pressure us. We have been threatened in writing but we will not compromise on national interest,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

Khan then splashed a letter and said it would prove his point. “I am placing the case of Pakistan’s independence before you. The letter I have is proof and I want to dare anyone who doubts this letter. I will invite them off the record. We have to decide for how long we will have to live like this. We are getting threats. There are many things about the foreign conspiracy which will be shared very soon.”

“The nation wants to know who the man sitting in London is meeting with and whose directions the characters based in Pakistan are following? I am revealing the proofs we have. I cannot talk more in detail because I have to protect the interest of my country. I cannot talk about anything that harms my country. I could have told you about it. I do not fear anyone but I care about Pakistan’s interest,” he stated.

March 28, 2022 Posted by | Corruption | , | 5 Comments

Chinese Foreign Minister visits India to discuss Ukraine

Samizdat | March 25, 2022

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in New Delhi on Thursday night for a diplomatic visit, where he is expected to meet his Indian counterpart Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, the Indian foreign ministry announced. This is the first visit of a high-ranking Chinese official to India since border clashes in Ladakh in 2020.

Wang Yi previously held talks with India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, according to Reuters. Both China and India kept the visit secret until the Beijing diplomat touched down in New Delhi late on Thursday.

The talks, set for Friday, are likely to be focused on border tensions between India-China, as well as Russia’s military offensive in Ukraine. Both countries have, so far, abstained from condemning and sanctioning Russia for its actions, maintaining trade relations with the country despite pressure from the West.

While the two nations have called on Russia to cease hostilities and look for a diplomatic solution, India continues to buy Russian oil and is currently discussing means to switch to a rupee-rouble trade mechanism, allowing the two sides to avoid trading in the euro or the dollar. China has repeatedly denounced unilateral sanctions on Moscow, protesting against Russia’s exclusion from the G20.

The relations between China and India began to deteriorate after a clash in the Ladakh region on their Himalayan border in June 2020, where at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed.

“Few would have anticipated … the turn that India’s relations with China have taken in the last two years,” Indian Foreign Minister said on Thursday, stressing the importance of coordination on defense and foreign policies matters between the two countries. It is likely that India will push for complete disengagement of troops from the region during the Friday talks.

The Chinese foreign minister visited Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier this week, and is set to continue his tour across South Asia by traveling to Nepal. In Pakistan, Wang Yi said that “China shares the same hope” as its Islamic colleagues regarding the status of Indian Kashmir province, who advocate for the province’s “inalienable right to self-determination”. The remark drew anger from some Indian officials ahead of his visit, as the Muslim majority region, controlled by both India and Pakistan, is considered a disputed territory, where India has been fighting armed rebels for decades.

March 25, 2022 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | 1 Comment