My name is Khan, and I'm not a terrorist

Taken off a plane and interrogated, the day after he re-asserts that he will not be a US stooge. Really America?

Dr Sabreena Razaq Hussain October 30, 2012
Dr Shahid Masood, I read your tweet and I couldn't resist, hence the title.

Right. Has anyone ever had the pleasure of being stared at in an airport by nervous bystanders after 9/11? Not a desirable experience by any measure. Ever had the privilege of being frisked at security check for twice as long as the person before you?


Anyone ever been the not so random one picked at random for a passport check?


Anyone been taken off a plane? No? You obviously don't have enough opinions to qualify.

But guess who does?

The who, what, where, why and when’s will become more apparent in these few days, but a few days ago it was confirmed by the man himself, Imran Khan, that he was taken off a plane at Pearson Airport, Toronto, boarded for New York where he was due to attend a PTI fundraising dinner.

Khan was quick to tweet after rumours had started flying about, and alleged that he was interrogated about his view on drones. Khan added that his "stance is known. Drone attacks must stop". It appears nothing became of the ‘interrogation’ and Imran Khan went to New York, having missed the PTI fundraising lunch planned there for him.

Many PTI supporters are demanding an apology from the US government.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has not yet issued its official stance on this but it will be interesting to see whether or not they demand a formal apology from the US for this incident. It seems that more so than Imran Khan however, this incident has diverted attention towards the US Nusrat Javeed, usually an outspoken and often snide critic of Imran Khan first tweeted of the predictability of this incident saying;
'People like me fully know the limits of freedom when it comes to THEIR SECURITY. Let's get real, wake up and smell the coffee.'

Okay. Pretty bland for Nusrat Javeed but interesting point raised.

Let's talk.

Fact; the US has no intentions of stopping drone attacks in Pakistan with both presidential candidates publicly in favour of drones. It seems that reports from Stanford and various credible institutions that highlight civilian deaths and inefficacy of drones don't come into the equation.

Fact; Imran Khan is the biggest and most outspoken critic of drone attacks in Pakistan. More recently the chairman of PTI, whose plan for peace through dialogue and protest has been referred to by the critically acclaimed Pakistan journalist Syed Talat Hussain as a "green peace approach", has more than alluded to shooting down the drones if the US and beyond were to respond in a rigidly unfavourable way to peace talks, if his party, PTI were in power.

PTI firmly stands by their stance that military action is a tried, tested and failed method of targeting militants and along with a breach of sovereignty in Pakistan is responsible for the increasing levels of polarisation and extremism in the country, hence fuelling a vicious circle. Their well-publicised peace march to Waziristan last month became the buzz topic in Pakistan, attracting much attention from around the world.

Loved it or hated it, it was pretty damn hard to miss.

So why after all this, and a day after Khan’s candid interview in Canada and after having boarded the plane, did the US immigration suddenly remember that they wanted to quiz him about drones?

The common American in general is perhaps not the most well informed about the happenings outside their own starred and striped world, but boarding the leader of a political party off a plane by nationals of a country that likes to consider itself as one of the ultimate pioneers of free speech, doesn't quite make the cut.

Articles like the irresponsibly written 'Will Hilary Clinton ban Imran Khan' by Tarek Fatah first published in the Toronto Sun on October 16, definitely didn't help, and either fuelled or were made to fuel this situation. Fatah concluded by asking, will Hilary Clinton do the honourable thing and bar Imran Khan from entering the US and sullying American soil?

One thing is for sure, the US immigration officials and/or government officials will always have enough buzz words to justify themselves to their own people. I doubt they will see the need to go to any extra effort to justify themselves to anyone else, especially PTI or Pakistan in general.

Taken off a plane, the day after he re-asserts that he will not be a stooge of the US, doesn't take a rocket scientist to guess why things happened the way they did.

If anything, some may be grateful of Khan's timely visit to the US, taking it as an opportunity and context for them to start introducing him to their nation. After all, something needs to come up on Google when in the possible near future the average American asks, who is the man that's shooting down our drones?

The original version of this post can be seen here.

Follow Sabreena on Twitter @sabreena_razaq
Dr Sabreena Razaq Hussain A doctor, political activist and aspiring writer based in the UK.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


abdul rashid behlim | 11 years ago | Reply @Mehr: Another myth spawned by PTI and its supporters: “military action has never succeeded against rebellions”. What utter and complete cr**. Care to look at the experience Sri Lanka had with its LTTE (also a suicide bombing rebel lot that fought the nationally elected government): “After the breakdown of the peace process in 2006, the Sri Lankan military launched a major offensive against the Tigers, defeating the LTTE militarily and bringing the entire country under its control. Victory over the Tigers was declared by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa on 16 May 2009,[20]................ Well you are forgettingon thing that this is not Sri Lanka its Afghanistan and Pakistan if you read history the British Rule failed to gain their power in Afghanistan and like wise you have seen What Consequences Russia has faced??? so these drones are just getting drained for nothing USA has completely failed in Afghanistan another Vietnam story only thing out of this misery is our elite's are encashing whatever they can before they meet their final destination and meet the supreme
bigsaf | 11 years ago | Reply @Noman Ansari: He made no such nuances. Its simply untrue no matter how many times you repeat it. Putting in words and fantasizing meanings is falsely rationalizing and defending him. He bluntly justified them using the Quran himself, and offered no disagreement with it or claimed the interpretation was twisted as you just did. That is obvious empathizing, if not worse. There is really no salvaging this. Glad you think the Taliban are scum. Doesn't hide the fact that IK has been conditional on his condemnations as mentioned earlier. Despite the stupidity of the US invasion, the Taliban will not have less power or less of an excuse with the US gone, just like the terrorists in Iraq. They had lots of power pre-invasion, and will try to get it back through punitive force, like they do now. Leaving abruptly is not a strategy. There are peace talks as IK recommends, as strategy. Sadly gets undermined by the criminal militants themselves, who fail to listen to reason, and the Pak authorities who seem to favour the Taliban, like Haqqani 'Sahib' or the Quetta Shura, a wee too much...though folks like Mullah Baradar do fall out of favour when they become too cozy with the Afghan govt.
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