The response this past week to our Imran Khan cable scoop, from the U.S. State Department and from the Pakistan government, has been at once internally contradictory but also interestingly consistent across the board. Oftentimes, three separate and incompatible arguments have been made at once: 1) the document might be inauthentic 2) the source of the document must have been Imran Khan and he should be charged for a high crime and 3) the document is actually a nothing burger.
"Nothing in these purported comments shows the United States taking a position on who the leader of Pakistan should be,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said in a statement to "The Intercept." So said a US government official.
However, assuming (as it seems to be correct to do) the text of the infamous cable published by the Intercept is that of a real communication between members of the US and Pakistani governments, the high US State Department's official in charge of affairs in the Asian region including Pakistan did said quite clearly to the Pakistani Ambassador that his government (Biden's) would see with favorable eyes if Khan were removal from the position of Prime Minister by a vote of no-confidence in Parliament. That sounds to me as a very specific endorsement of his removal from office, something that goes very far from what diplomats usually do when expressing displeasure of with what some government out there is up to, to the representative of said government.
Now, Imran Khan was, before going into politics, a national hero as the captain of the Pakistani Cricket team, after a long and brilliant career as a player of such a sport. Perhaps his going into politics was not the best way to follow after such a career. For the little that has transpired here on what he has been up to as a politician and keeping this fact in mind, it has seemed to me that he was not a great politician, particularly one up to the ask of keeping some semblance of democracy and respect of the rights of the people going, in the teeth of a situation where, on one jaw, were the strong and murderous religious fundamentalist movements and, on the other jaw, a military used to run things openly and ruthlessly when in power (as they are doing now), and to manipulate things to their liking from the shadows, when they are not. And both jaws, endowed with long and sharp teeth, joined together by two hinges acted in complete agreement by very powerful muscles.
Therefore his shouting at public political meetings that Pakistanis were not slaves of European governments, who had asked him not to go to Moscow and not to maintain neutrality on the Ukraine invasion, is just an example, I think, of exactly what not to do under the circumstances at home, because then those circumstances got to him, and how!
The outcome was the current situation of one of military dictatorship covered by a tenuous fig-leaf of constitutional government. And a devastating economic situation with very high inflation and fugue of capitals, etc. But this outcome was not prompted by Khan himself. Instead, it was prompted by the "suggestion" of the US Government to those listening on the other side and quite keen to hear it, that it would be a good thing, particularly for themselves, is Khan were to be removed from power with a constitutionally adequate vote of non-confidence in the Pakistani Parliament. This was outright intervention in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Furthermore, it was not the Burkina-Faso government intervening, but the US one, and I seem to see some difference in importance and in consequences between both possible interventions.
So, however desirable might have been for the US government to see Khan removed from the scene in a civilized manner, of course, the dreadful consequences now suffered by everybody, but particularly by the democracy-supporting, liberally-minded in Pakistan, those consequences are on the Biden Administration and, directly, on Biden himself. His Security Council was on this, and he could not have ignored this fact. Approval for anything of the importance revealed by the contents of the cable would have had to be cleared up with him first. If that was not done then those conspiracy theorists partial to accusing the "Deep Sate" for many imaginary ills, would have been right on the substance of this particular intervention by actual, no longer hypothetical US government Éminence Grises in reality, after all.