The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has questioned Pakistan’s suspected assistance in the US drone attack that killed top Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul in the wee hours of Tuesday.
The attack came hours before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued a verdict against the PTI, declaring that Imran Khan’s party received funds from prohibited sources including foreign nationals and companies.
At least 351 companies and 34 non-Pakistani nationals funded the PTI through two LLC companies in the United States, the ECP found.
The party also received funds from the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and Singapore, but failed to disclose the funding before the ECP as mandated by the law and the constitution, the verdict said.
A report by SAMAA TV’s Investigation Unit revealed that the PTI continued to raise funds in the United State even after Imran Khan took power in 2018. The last chunk was received in March 2022, weeks before he was ousted by the Parliament.
Soon after the ECP gave its verdict, the PTI activists began linking the ruling with the US drone attack against Zawahiri, claiming that the ECP decision was announced to distract the Pakistani people away from the drone attack.
Shireen Mazari, one of the top PTI leaders and the human rights minister under Imran Khan, in a series of tweets insinuated that the PMLN-led government allowed the United States to use Pakistan’s bases or airspace for the drone attack.
A Hellfire missile fired by a US drone reportedly hit Zawahiri on the balcony of his home in Kabul’s posh district that housed foreigners and senior government officials before the Taliban takeover of Kabul on August 15, 2021. His death was announced by US President Joe Biden.
The Taliban confirmed a drone attack was carried out in Kabul, calling it “a clear violation of international principles and Doha agreement” but without confirming that Zawahiri was taken out.
Mazari claimed the US drone flew from the Gulf region and likely used Pakistani airspace after the current government allowed overflights.
Referring to Imran Khan’s interview with Axios HBO, Mazari claimed that Imran Khan was removed for saying ‘absolutely not’ to US demands and that the current government has ‘covertly’ given bases to the United States or allowed it to use the airspace.
“Puzzling question: a US drone flew into Afghanistan from direction of Gulf region - assuming Pak hasn’t given bases yet (unless this govt has done so covertly) - but flew over which country’s airspace? Iran does not give any airspace rights to US mly so was Pak airspace used?
“Is that why PM IK had to be removed after his Absutely Not to US demands? I always date US regime change conspiracy from June 2021. Enough evidence.”
PTI activists in their social media campaign to link the verdict in the foreign funding case and the US drone attack against Zawahiri also circulated a screenshot purportedly from Aljazeera TV which read, “Pakistan provides air corridor for U.S. military flights to and from Afghanistan.”
They claimed that Pakistan had moved from Imran Khan’s saying ‘absolutely not’ to the current government saying ‘absolutely yes’ to the US demands.
‘Absolutely Yes’ was one of the top Twitter in Pakistan on Wednesday.
They also linked the Pakistani rupee gaining over 4% against the US dollar to Pakistan’s alleged help for the drone attack.
SAMAA TV’s report on PTI’s fundraising efforts in the United States is based on the statements submitted to the Department of Justice. It indicates that the party still has a considerable number of supporters in that country.
However, at home, the PTI leadership has used anti-American rhetoric to first gain power and then to portray itself as a victim of the US ‘regime change’ conspiracy.