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Pakistan Prime Minister  Ian Khan shared the contents of a "secret letter" - which according to the government was based on a diplomatic cable received from one of the country's missions abroad - in a meeting with journalists on Wednesday, days before the no-confidence vote. 

Reportedly, the cable was sent by Pakistan's then-ambassador to United States Asad Majeed on the basis of his meeting with Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu, reports DAWN.  

Ambassador Majeed has now moved to Brussels for taking up his new assignment and has been replaced by Ambassador Masood Khan.

Meanwhile, contradictory claims have emerged from Islamabad and Washington about the meeting between Ambassador Majeed and Lu after PM Khan's claim.

Although the US administration was unhappy with Khan's trip to Moscow which coincided with the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, they deny in private discussions that any specific message was delivered to the Pakistani envoy.

US State Department had publicly voiced those concerns and both sides acknowledge that there had also been a communication between them ahead of Khan's Moscow trip in which an attempt was made to dissuade him from undertaking the visit.

Later on March 1, Islamabad-based Western diplomats had also issued a statement, urging the Pakistani government to condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine and support a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) calling on Moscow to stop the war.

Pakistan went on to abstain from the UNGA vote and demanded that the conflict be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy.

The other issue the Americans reportedly had was with Khan's foreign policy.

The Pak government initially offered to share the letter with the chief justice of Pakistan, but later the prime minister also briefed his cabinet members about the contents of the letter. A group of journalists were then provided with minutes of the cabinet meeting at their interaction with the prime minister.

The government, however, withheld the original letter and its word-for-word contents in view of the legal bar on disclosing classified documents as per the Official Secrets Act, according to Pakistani media.

The journalists were informed that the letter is neither written by any country to Pakistan, nor is it any Pakistani diplomat's analysis. It is the word-for-word transcript of an official conversation between the diplomats of Pakistan and another powerful country sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Federal Minister Asad Umar told the journalists that Pakistan has been given a message that "everything would be forgiven" if the no-confidence motion against Ian Khan succeeds, but its failure would entail serious consequences for Pakistan.

No foreign government was named in that meeting, but the media persons were informed that a Pakistani envoy was told by a senior official of the host country that they had issues with Prime Minister Khan's foreign policy, especially his visit to Russia and the stance on the ongoing Ukrainian war.

The Pakistani envoy was further conveyed that the future trajectory of relations between the two countries was contingent upon the fate of the no-confidence motion that the opposition parties were then planning to bring against the prime minister. The envoy was warned of serious implications if Prime Minister Khan survived the no-trust vote.

To a question about putting up the letter before the national security community, the PM said the letter would be taken up before parliament's in-camera session, and added that various options for legal action on this threat are also being considered.

Asad Umar clarified that only certain contents, not the original letter, would be shared with the parliament. Imran Khan said that it would become difficult for the members to vote against him, otherwise they would become part of the global conspiracy.

Imran Khan, despite key allies having ditched him, was confident that chances of his success are "80 per cent today and would be 100 per cent on Sunday".

When asked why the western states were annoyed with his government, Khan said he is not against any western country, but some opposition leaders incite foreign diplomats.

The cable was reportedly sent on 7 March, a day before the opposition submitted the no-confidence motion and requisitioned a National Assembly session for voting on it.

A senior Pakistani official told Dawn the language used in the meeting by the American side was unusually harsh.

A couple of Pakistan's former envoys to the United States told Dawn American officials usually did not brandish threats during official meetings though their tone would vary from situation to situation.

Besides, countries routinely keep expressing displeasure or concern over others' actions in bilateral engagements.

They said that even if threats were made in extreme situations, that was done in a subtle manner and, more importantly, a plausible deniability is maintained. "They will certainly not do so in the presence of note-takers," one of them quipped.

The two former ambassadors further observed that under PM Khan, the fundamentals of foreign policy had not changed except that he was more vocal. Therefore, it was difficult to understand why they would have an issue with his policy now, they maintained, adding that Islamabad had not threatened US interests either.

Interestingly, there were no signs of a rupture or new tensions in ties until Khan went public with the threat.

As per a DAWN editorial, the chances of Imran Khan's survival have dimmed considerably after the coalition government has lost the sliver of a margin it stood on with the MQM's departure. 

It writes, "There is at the moment not much that Prime Minister Imran Khan can do politically to prevent further desertions. The mysterious foreign letter he had hoped would rehabilitate his misfortunes seems now to have been of limited utility."

Earlier at a rally in Islamabad on Sunday (27 March), Imran Khan claimed that the opposition's no-confidence motion against him was a result of a "foreign conspiracy" because of his external policy and funds were being channelled from abroad to oust him from power.