WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday repeated his claims that the United States had orchestrated his ouster, saying that “anti-Americanism” was growing in the South Asian nation as a result of “all this becoming public.” Khan has been making versions of this claim for nearly two months, but has not provided evidence to support it. Khan’s exclusive interview with CNN was his first with an international news organisation since the cricketer-turned-politician was unseated in a vote of no-confidence, following claims of bad governance and economic mismanagement.

Khan -- who was removed from office in a no-confidence vote in April -- called for a huge nationwide rally to protest his downfall for Wednesday and confirmed he would run again for office at the next election.

 

“Whenever the next elections take place, not only will we run, but I can predict that this will be the biggest party in Pakistan’s history, because people are so incensed and feel insulted that these criminals have been foisted upon us,” Khan told CNN, referring to Pakistan’s new government.

 

Khan has repeatedly claimed that Donald Lu, the Assistant Secretary for the US Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, had met with Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington in March and told him that Khan should be dismissed from power in the confidence vote. Khan said Monday that Lu threatened “Pakistan will suffer consequences” unless Khan was removed from power. Khan also acknowledged that his official visit to Russia in late February, coinciding with the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, had likely rankled American officials.

 

“There is no truth to these allegations,” a US State Department spokesperson told CNN, having previously and repeatedly denied involvement in Khan’s ouster.

 

Khan even suggested in the interview that Lu be fired for interfering with Pakistan’s domestic politics, and “for bad manners and sheer arrogance.” When asked to provide evidence for his claims, Khan said that there were note takers on both the US and Pakistani sides at the meeting, but did not answer directly when asked whether he would make any notes publicly available.

 

He said that a cipher -- an encoded diplomatic cable -- outlining the details of the meeting sent from the Pakistani ambassador had been forwarded to Pakistan’s cabinet. Khan said he also presented the minutes from that meeting to the National Security Council.

 

Khan has also previously accused Pakistan’s military and opposition led by current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of conspiring with the US, which they both deny.

“People are so incensed and feel insulted that these criminals have been foisted upon us,” Khan said.

Khan’s allegations have become a staple at rallies he has held across Pakistan in a bid to return to power.

His claims have struck a chord with a young population in a country where anti-American sentiment runs high, and anti-establishment feelings are being fueled by a rising cost of living crisis.

 

He told CNN that there was anger and “anti-Americanism right now” in the country. On Sunday, he announced that he would lead his supporters on a long rally from the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where his party still holds power, to the capital, Islamabad, on Wednesday, more than 200 kilometers (120 miles) away.

 

Also, Imran Khan Monday paid a surprise to Saddar Bazaar here and mingled with people.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, PTI leaders including Pervez Khattak and others accompanied him during the visit to various parts of Saddar Bazaar. Upon seeing PTI chairman among themselves, people rushed towards him to shake hand and make selfies with him.

He also waved to shopkeepers who came out of their shops to welcome him. Women present in Bazaar also showed their pleasure to found Imran Khan among people and took selfies with their mobiles.

On this occasion, people chanted slogans in favour of PTI leader.

It is worth mentioning here that Chairman PTI Imran has given long march call to Islamabad on May 25 and would lead public rally from Peshawar.