Pakistan Events Confirm that Washington Prefers Compliant Autocrats Over Feisty Democrats
All signs indicated that Prime Minister Imran Khan was the most popular political leader in Pakistan. Yet the country’s military worked behind the scenes to remove him from power through a cash-lubricated parliamentary vote. Subsequently, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison and a 5-year ban on involvement in politics for alleged misuse of campaign contributions. That outcome is ironic. Veteran diplomat Craig Murray
that “Imran Khan is almost certainly the least corrupt senior politician in Pakistan’s history.” And given the long-standing, massive corruption in that country, he likely is correct.
Murray also notes the emergence of “a vicious campaign of violence and imprisonment against Khan and his supporters. It is currently illegal in Pakistan to publish or broadcast about Khan or the thousands of new political prisoners incarcerated in appalling conditions.” Yet there have been no protests from the U.S. government.
...From Washington’s standpoint, Khan committed two unforgivable offenses. In August 2021, he not only congratulated Taliban forces on their victory over the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, but he stated that they had broken “
the chains of slavery
” imposed by Western imperialism and cultural domination. For U.S. leaders who proclaimed that the two-decade long counterinsurgency campaign against the Taliban was part of the global “War on Terror,” such apostasy by a U.S. treaty ally would have been considered an infuriating betrayal.More recently, Khan emphatically refused to cooperate with the efforts of the United States and NATO to impose economic sanctions on Russia. The Intercept now reports
that 2 U.S. State Department officials then urged Khan’s political and military opponents to remove him from office. That report was based on a leaked classified cable. Given the extent of Washington’s economic and military aid to Pakistan, such a “request” could not easily be ignored.