There has been great concern amongst Pakistani civil society as well as the global diaspora over the sudden regime change in Pakistan where an uncompromising, independent, squeaky clean and highly popular leader has been replaced by a coalition of political parties led by leaders with well known track record of corruption for decades.
Following the Pakistan’s Supreme Court verdict on Thursday evening 7 April that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s move to dissolve parliament and call for early elections was unconstitutional, a parliamentary no confidence vote was used to remove Imran and install a new Pakistan government led by Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday 10 April 2022.
The popular cricketer turned politician, has accused the US of orchestrating regime change, conspiring with the opposition and some members of his coalition government through a vote of no-confidence, for pursuing a foreign policy free of US hegemony.
Imran’s supporters are adamant that the Pakistani opposition has been used as a convenient tool of US whose “puppet masters” decided to no longer tolerate an independent foreign policy course of Pakistan.
Once a fiercely loyal ally of the US, Pakistan under Imran has been steadily pivoting to Beijing and most recently even to Moscow.
China is investing $70 billion in Pakistan’s largest infrastructure project, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This infrastructure megaproject symbolizes the backbone of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a complex network of highways, railways, gas and oil pipelines stretching along Pakistan from north to south.
Altering foreign policy trajectory of Pakistan, especially if it could destabilise Pakistan-China relations and slow the progress of BRI would certainly serve the interest of global American hegemony, hence the suspicion towards soft regime change in Pakistan.
Due to India’s irreplaceable role in this process as India is important for a successful US policy in the Indo-Pacific, US seems eager to spare India from its criticism despite of India’s extreme human rights violations of Muslims in Kashmir and looking the other way before explicit BJP’s fascist policies towards its Muslims, Christians and other minorities.
Meanwhile Imran Khan has been holding highly popular rallies all over Pakistan, evidence of his popularity trying to press for early elections that he hopes to win and restore popular governance in Pakistan.