'Won't tolerate interference in Pakistan's internal affairs', PTI tells US envoy

US Ambassador Donald Blome requested for meeting through Foreign Office, says Omar Ayub after meeting

Azaz Syed
Haider Sherazi
Maryam Nawaz
US ambassador to Pakistan Donald Blome (left) meets PTI Central General Secretary Omar Ayub Khan in Islamabad on May 6, 2024. — Reporter    
  • PTI’s concerns, issues have been conveyed to US envoy, says Omar.
  • Says the meeting held on the request of the US ambassador.
  • US support for economic reforms discussed in meeting: embassy.

In a major development, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan on Monday said that his party told the US ambassador to Pakistan that they would not tolerate foreign interference in the country's internal affairs.

The statement came after a four-member PTI delegation headed by Omar and comprising party chairman Gohar Ali Khan, Asad Qaiser and Raoof Hasan met US envoy Donald Blome in the federal capital.

The US ambassador, through the Foreign Office, requested for the meeting, the PTI leader said, adding that political officer was also present during the meeting.

It is pertinent to mention here that PTI founder Imran Khan had earlier blamed Washington for overthrowing his government in April 2022. Khan was ousted from power after losing a no-confidence vote that the PTI founder alleged engineered by the US by colluding with the then opposition parties.

The cipher controversy first emerged on March 27, 2022, when Khan — less than a month before his ouster in April 2022 — while addressing a public rally waved a letter before the crowd, claiming that it was a cipher from a foreign nation that had conspired with his political rivals to topple the PTI government. 

He had alleged that Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Affairs Donald Lu had sought his removal in a meeting with the then Pakistan ambassador to US Asad Majeed. 

Lu, however, had rubbished Khan’s cipher “conspiracy theory” and called it “complete falsehood”.

After months of allegations, the ousted premier turned his guns towards the former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, holding him responsible for the “conspiracy” which resulted in his ouster from power.

Talking to journalists after his meeting with the US ambassador today, Omar, also the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, said: “Matters related to military courts and cases against the PTI founder and other leaders of the party were discussed with the US envoy.”

In January this year, a special court established under the Official Secrets Act handed down 10 years imprisonment to the PTI founder and Shah Mehmood Qureshi 10 years imprisonment in the high-profile cypher case.

Omar said that he apprised the US ambassador that cases against their female supporters and workers were being tried in the military courts.

Matters related to rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution in the country were discussed in the huddle.

“We have repeatedly said that these are Pakistan’s internal issues.”

The PTI leader said that he told the US ambassador that they wanted rule of law in the country as it would bring investment.

He retreated that the Khan-led PTI government was toppled under the “London” plan.

The PTI founder has claimed that an "agreement" was signed in London wherein his political rivals plotted to put him behind bars and give clean chit to the Pakistan Muslim Leaque-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif in all cases to pave way for his political comeback.

But in the same breath, the PTI leader said his party would not present his reservations before any foreign envoy including US. 

‘Conveyed concerns, issues to US ambassador’

Moments after claiming that they would not show their concerns before the US ambassador or any other foreigner, PTI leader Ayub, during his interaction with journalists at the KP House, said: “We have conveyed our concerns and issues to the US ambassador.”

Today's meeting remained “positive”, he said, adding that the meeting was held at the request of the US ambassador.

“Nothing related to military bases was discussed in the meeting,” he added.

Responding to a question, the PTI leader said that they would meet Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He made the remarks in the backdrop of the opposition's ongoing protest drive against the PML-N-led government.

‘Far-reaching economic reforms’

In a statement, the US embassy in Pakistan confirmed that Ambassador Blome met PTI leader Ayub and other opposition leaders.

The acting spokesperson of the US mission said: “The US ambassador underscored the need for far-reaching economic reforms, stable and secure future of the people in Pakistan.”

Common interests, opportunities and shared goals were also discussed in the huddle, the spokesperson added.

The US envoy stressed the need to expedite Green Alliance framework projects for climate change.

The US support for economic reforms and recovery of the cash-strapped nation, issues related to regional security and human rights were also discussed, the spokesperson added.