Pakistan rejects ousted PM Khan's accusation that U.S. conspired to topple him

·2-min read
Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures as he addresses supporters during a rally, in Karachi

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan's National Security Council, a body of top civil and military leaders, on Friday rejected ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan's accusations that United States had conspired to topple his government through a parliamentary vote of confidence.

Khan, 69, who led the nuclear-armed South Asian country of 220 million people for three and a half years, had accused Washington of backing a conspiracy to remove him.

He had said that he visited Moscow against U.S. advice. Washington denies the charge.

Asad Majeed, former Pakistan ambassador to the United States who had written a cable to Islamabad about Washington's take on Khan's Moscow visit, briefed the civil and military leaders on a forum called National Security Committee (NSC).

"The NSC after reviewing the contents of the communication, the assessment received, and the conclusion presented by the security agencies, concludes that there has been no conspiracy," a statement from the office of new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

It said the country's premier spy agencies informed the NSC that they found no evidence to support any conspiracy theory.

Khan's Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) party demanded a judicial probe into the matter.

The ousted leader met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24, the day Russian forces invaded neighbouring Ukraine.

Khan initially blocked the no-confidence move, saying the NSC had endorsed the alleged conspiracy.

Opposition parties and analysts have said the military helped Khan win election in 2018, which they both deny, but that the support waned after a falling-out over the appointment of the country's next intelligence chief late last year.

Khan has aired his conspiracy allegations in three huge public rallies he has held since he was ousted. He has demanded snap elections.

The next parliamentary election is due in 2023.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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