Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, in an interview to The NewYork Times, cited his reasons for cancelling his participation at a conference in New Delhi which Salman Rushdie was attending.
“I always hated his writing. He always sees the ugly side of things. He is… a ‘self-hating’ Muslim,” Khan stated in his interview.
Commenting on the names he has been called by Rushdie and other critics, Khan said, “I am called an Islamic fundamentalist by Rushdie. My critics in Pakistan say I am a Zionist agent. I must be doing something right.”
During the interview, Khan also stressed upon the fact that the Muslims have different ways of looking at religion than the West, and that the West needs to understand this.
When asked about his party’s alleged links to the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency and the extremists, Khan said, “It is these Westoxified Pakistanis who call me ‘Taliban Khan’… But how can they compare me with these uneducated boys of the Taliban or connect me to mullahs? If you read my book, you will find that the Islam I relate to is Sufi Islam. Our policy is to talk to all political players.
“These so-called extremists in Pakistan should be brought into the mainstream; if you marginalise them, you radicalise them.”
Criticising Hudood Ordinance
According to the interviewer, there was a “small explosion of anger” when Khan was asked about his stance on women’s rights as he refused to support the Hudood Ordinance. Khan said he would repeal the Hudood law altogether if he is elected.
When Khan was told that many liberal-minded people in Pakistan are worried about his positions, Khan exclaimed: “Morons!”
“First you have to guarantee basic social and economic rights before you get to gender rights! What is the point of these NGO workers showing up in conservative tribal areas wearing blue jeans?!”
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