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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan accuses the U.S. of trying to oust him


Shifting to another part of the world now. Pakistan's relations with the U.S. are being strained even more than they already were since the prime minister there alleged that Washington is behind a conspiracy to remove him from power. NPR's Diaa Hadid is in Islamabad.


PRIME MINISTER IMRAN KHAN: (Non-English language spoken).

DIAA HADID, BYLINE: The Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, made the allegation in a defiant address.


KHAN: (Non-English language spoken).

HADID: And he says, "America - oh, I mean, a foreign country sent us a message." He says that foreign country, America, was angry at Pakistan, but they'll forgive the country if he's ousted. This allegation comes in the context of an effort by the opposition to remove Khan from power. It began after it appeared that the military quietly withdrew its support for Khan's coalition government. As Pakistan's most powerful institution backed away, the opposition sensed an opening.

This week, one of Khan's allies broke away, and he lost his parliamentary majority. He's also expected to face a vote on a no confidence motion in coming days. As that vote draws near, Khan has made increasingly dramatic claims. He says there's a letter outlining the plot to overthrow him. His allies allege hidden hands want to assassinate him. American officials deny involvement. But relations with Washington have been tense for years, and they didn't get any better with Khan in power. Analyst Mosharraf Zaidi says these claims are about Khan shaping himself as an opposition leader punished for standing up for Pakistan. Zaidi says Khan is conveying...

MOSHARRAF ZAIDI: The reason I've been expelled from office is because the global Western powers got together with the opposition parties and had me removed from office because I stand for Pakistani autonomy and sovereignty and they don't.

HADID: There is certainly an audience in Pakistan for these kinds of conspiracy theories. So analysts are asking how much damage will Khan inflict on relations with Washington as a price for his political survival? Will it work? And can the relationship be repaired? Diaa Hadid, NPR News, Islamabad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Diaa Hadid chiefly covers Pakistan and Afghanistan for NPR News. She is based in NPR's bureau in Islamabad. There, Hadid and her team were awarded a Murrow in 2019 for hard news for their story on why abortion rates in Pakistan are among the highest in the world.

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