Pak Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has once again rejected his predecessor, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s claims about his government’s removal under a “conspiracy” backed by the United States, saying that if the same was true, would Pakistan have bought cheaper oil from Russia.

The statement came in response to a foreign media report about the US cipher which claimed to substantiate former prime minister Imran Khan’s allegations that he was removed under American pressure after his Russia visit.

During an interview with WE News, PM Shehbaz was asked whether the publishing of this news story authenticated the PTI chief’s narrative.

Responding to the query, the premier said that he headed two meetings of the National Security Committee (NSC) on the cipher, and in one of them the current foreign secretary Asad Majeed Khan — who was Pakistan’s ambassador to the US in March 2022 — said that he had only narrated his meeting with US official Donald Lu in that cipher.

PM Shehbaz quoted Majeed as saying in the meeting that “there was no mention of any conspiracy in that [cipher], and all Pakistan’s ambassadors, wherever deputed in the world, keep sending their conversations”.

He further said that the services chiefs, including the then army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, were also present in that meeting and all of them accepted that the US didn’t conspire against Imran Khan.

“Secondly, Imran Niazi said that this conspiracy was hatched because his relations with Russia were flourishing. So, we [Shehbaz-led government] purchased cheaper oil from Russia. If, God forbids, this government was formed under a US conspiracy, then how could we get oil from Russia,” he said.

He went on to say that his government “restored” the ties with China to the same level as they were in 2017 when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister.