Attack on Salman Rushdie ‘unjustifiable’, says Imran

Ex-PM says anger regarding Rushdie understandable, terms attack 'terrible, sad'


News Desk August 19, 2022
Former prime minister Imran Khan. SCREENGRAB

Former prime minister Imran Khan has condemned the knife attack on Salman Rushdie, an India-born author and winner of the Booker Prize, saying the anger of Muslims against the author was understandable but it still didn't justify the attack, reported Guardian on Friday.

"I think it is terrible, sad," Imran told the newspaper in a comment on the violent attack that put Rushdie on a ventilator.

"Rushdie understood, because he came from a Muslim family. He knows the love, respect, reverence of a prophet that lives in our hearts. He knew that. So the anger I understood, but you can't justify what happened," the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Rushdie, who was born in India to a Muslim Kashmiri family, has lived with a bounty on his head, and spent nine years in hiding under British police protection.

The author sustained severe injuries in the attack, including nerve damage in his arm, wounds to his liver, and the likely loss of an eye, his agent said. But his condition has been improving since the weekend, and he had been taken off the ventilator.

'Political victimization'

Imran also spoke about the political victimization of the PTI, highlighting, in particular, the alleged torture of his fellow party leader Shahbaz Gill – who was arrested on charges of sedition earlier this month and according to Imran, beaten and “psychologically broken”.

Read Salman Rushdie attack suspect pleads not guilty to attempted murder, assault

“Gill was targeted because he had said army officers should not obey unlawful commands,” the British newspaper reported.

“They are forcing him to say that I was the one who told him to say that,” the former prime minister said.

“What they’re doing to Gill is sending a message to everyone,” he said. “And they have scared our workers. Social media activists have been picked up and we have a very vibrant social media. They’re trying to sort of intimidate the people.”

“In my time, we never tried to oppress the media. The only problem was that sometimes the … security agencies – three or four times we found out that picked someone up and immediately when we found out we would immediately have them released,” Guardian reported.

Speaking about the situation in Afghanistan, ruled by the Afghan Taliban that came to power in August last year, the PTI chief said that, “Eventually Afghan women, the Afghan people, will assert their rights. They are strong people.”

“But if you push the Taliban from the outside, knowing their mindset, they will just put up defences. They just hate outside interference,” he added.

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