Is Imran Khan really pro-Taliban?

Published: October 13, 2012

RAWALPINDI: Imran Khan has always drawn criticism from the so-called liberal intelligentsia in Pakistan. His stance on the infamous Lal Masjid operation is also out in the open and hasn’t gone down too well with the leftists. However, his critics have particularly vociferously condemned him after the historical political gathering he staged in Lahore on October 30 last year, perhaps because that was clear proof of his genuine popularity among the masses.

Often mocked as  ‘Taliban Khan’, Imran has drawn harsh criticism for a number of policies which he and his party have consistently followed. We know that he is against military operations in Fata, he is against US drone strikes and wishes for Pakistan to disengage from the US-led war on terror. His consistent opposition to military operations, including the Lal Masjid operation, is not the result of sympathy for the intended targets but of the consequences of such operations. He says that widespread military operations lead to indiscriminate killings in the areas that are targeted by security forces and this, in turn, allows the Taliban to recruit more people to their cause. Mr Khan believes that local tribals who do not particularly believe in hardcore Taliban ideology outnumber the militants and that their support is key to putting an end to the seemingly endless war on terror.

While the merits of this policy adopted by Imran Khan can be debated, what is mind-boggling, to me at least, is how does this make him a tacit supporter of the militants or the TTP? As for drone strikes, he thinks they are immoral, illegal and counterproductive.

Drone strikes are immoral because they take out suspected militants without any evidence or a fair trial. They are illegal because the US violates Pakistan’s territorial sanctity and are counterproductive since a high ratio of civilian casualties brews up further anti-American sentiment in the country. Hence, to call Imran Khan a hypocrite or a supporter of militants on the basis of his stance on drone strikes makes little sense as his contention is that drones mostly kill civilians and fuel radicalisation.

The recent unfortunate and deplorable attack against Malala Yousufzai by the TTP (there you go, I named them) has been widely condemned by every segment of society, including Imran Khan. However, it was interesting that the day this terrible news came out, most Pakistanis on social media platforms such as Twitter were busy condemning Imran Khan and the PTI. There was little mention of how the Pakistani federal and provincial governments failed to protect Malala.

The ratio of civilian causalities may not be 98 per cent in drone strikes as stated by the Stanford report, but I personally feel ashamed that it is acceptable to Pakistani policymakers sitting in Islamabad and Rawalpindi and opinion-makers residing in Lahore and Karachi, even if this ratio were lower. I would be very upset over this if I were living in Waziristan and one can only imagine what heinous acts I would agree to commit if my family members were killed in a drone attack.

Also, if Imran Khan is dubbed pro-TTP for advocating negotiations in Fata, what would one call the dozens of political and religious parties that recently endorsed that idea at an All-Parties Conference held in Islamabad? Surely, ‘Taliban Khan’ was not holding a gun to their head. The failure of the present government to improve the law and order situation and reduce radicalisation in society is deplorable and should be vociferously highlighted in print and electronic media.

If Imran Khan’s critics started asking leading political parties even half of the questions that they ask him, we would not be in the mess that we are.

Aamer Riaz

Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (27)

  • DoseOfReality
    Oct 13, 2012 - 10:52PM

    Imran Khan supports the terrorist Hafiz Saeed. Therefore I will call him Taliban Khan.Recommend

  • Something Clever
    Oct 13, 2012 - 11:08PM

    Have him defend himself. All anyone sees are his abusive supporters even putting words in his mouth to try and explain away the dumb things he says when it’s right there to see that he did, in fact, say it. Yet, he never tells people they’re wrong. Only his supporters.


  • Learner
    Oct 13, 2012 - 11:11PM

    Well said! This will not go down well with the liberal brigade which is looking for reasons to take Imran Khan to task.


  • imran
    Oct 13, 2012 - 11:39PM

    in pakistan liberal means who wear pant and shirt,eat alot junk food drink openly if cant then covertly , most of all must be pro american and follow what american said if u disagree with american policies run by american state then ur not liberal ur out of that circle .that what pakistani liberals r ,they r pakistani face of america and the west .
    if us said taliban s r good and we r talking with them same liberals of pakistan will find tons of reasons why taliban r good and why should we talk with them liberal means toe what america says .


  • Hudson
    Oct 13, 2012 - 11:44PM

    Prime Minister Imran Khan Proclaims Jihad against TTP

    Long Live Captain Cricket ! Best of Luck


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Oct 14, 2012 - 12:03AM

    Anyone who does not believe in Pakistan’s constitution, law, territorial boundaries, armed forces and flag is our enemy. Taliban do not believe in these things. They have a clear, unambiguous agenda to capture power and turn Pakistan into a barbaric state. We have only two choices, Surrender to their ideology or double our efforts to eliminate them. Imran is confused and lost. This is the reason we call him Taliban Khan and Taliban call him Secular and Western. He cannot score on both ends. He must take a side.


  • Nasim Mengal
    Oct 14, 2012 - 12:19AM

    Imran Khan is die hard Pakistani. You call him any name and give him any ethenicity but end of the day he did great things Only for Pakistan. We are in-debt to this person for all the good things. I am 100% confident that he deserves to lead the nation. He can get us from this quagmire.

    He is the only person in the current lot of politician who can deal with international pressure and national issues. Allah bless this son of the nation. I feel sad to hear any thing against him with all he has done for us.


  • Shakeel N
    Oct 14, 2012 - 1:30AM

    An extraordinary writing. I think every person who wants to learn about thoughts of imran khan should read this article. It explains it very well.


  • SK Ayubi
    Oct 14, 2012 - 2:24AM

    A sensible letter. Though he has his problems, the obsession some corners of the liberal media have with attacking IK is alarming. You’re right when you argue Pakistan wouldn’t be in as appalling a current state if these same commentators held politicians from the traditional parties to account in a similar way. If even half the scrutiny was directed towards Zardari& Co, things wouldn’t be the way they are. Instead, they let the establishment off the hook repeatedly with such simple arguments as ‘but their hands are tied’. As if Imran’s aren’t.

    Just one thing: regarding one of your opening sentences; Imran’s critics wouldn’t know leftist politics if it hit them in the face. Predominantly, what we’re dealing with here are WSJ/ NYT reading liberal elites who’re fearful the status quo might be rocked, that they might have to pay a little tax, that their exclusive clubs might be sidelined, that the judiciary may be able to take them on the next time they run someone over in daddy’s 4×4.

    His critics can call him Taliban Khan until they’re blue in the face, but many of the PTI’s policies stand among the farthest left in Pakistan’s political landscape. Some critics are of course more genuine, with their major failing being their stupidity. On the issue of the Taliban, the individuals in question are unable to register cause and effect and genuinely feel the enemy can be bombed in to submission. They naively buy the whole ‘they hate us for our freedom’ argument.


  • Hassaan
    Oct 14, 2012 - 2:30AM

    AWESOME piece. Thank you Aamer for writing this. I can proudly say that you are MUCH MORE matured than those pseudo-intellectuals. Yup – call him Taliban Khan. Insh’Allah time will prove IK right. Just wait and watch


  • JCD
    Oct 14, 2012 - 2:31AM

    Brilliant response to all the criticism of IK. Sadly, sir, you will soon be labelled a Taliban sympathizer by our intellectual elite…Recommend

  • Baset
    Oct 14, 2012 - 4:47AM

    Very valid point Sir. Our media really needs to step it up. Long live the real lion of Pakistan Imran Khan !!!


  • ayesha
    Oct 14, 2012 - 5:06AM

    Hmmmm…Interesting,Pro-Taliban or agent of Jewish lobby….WHATEVER He’s termed but one thing is for sure,”He is one honest politician on the land of Pakistan”
    Go,Vote for IMRAN KHAN…that’s it..Save Pakistan please…


  • Shehryar
    Oct 14, 2012 - 5:49AM

    There is no doubt in anyone’s mind anymore about Imran’s pro-taliban stance. A really good infographic here exposes Imran.


  • Raw is War
    Oct 14, 2012 - 11:35AM

    he is.


  • Hasnain Ali
    Oct 14, 2012 - 5:51PM

    Imran Khan Niazi is a confused person and has been taking u-turns in the past as well. He simply wants to stay in the lime light and his media cell is doing it excellent with zakat money.


  • Kaizen
    Oct 14, 2012 - 6:08PM

    its good to see ET trying to break the bias it seems to have had in last few days against IK & PTI. The impression it had created on its website and blogs was akin to poor, immature and crooked journalism. Hope it will continue and people participate in healthy constructive debate and circumvent any derogatory language.


  • Ali S
    Oct 14, 2012 - 10:49PM

    IK may have his intentions in all the right place when he says that drones are not a solution, but he needs to be as vociferous against the TTP as he is against the drones – drones may have civilian casualties as “collateral damage”, but the extremists don’t give second thought to killing civilians. Why the double standard in condemnation?


  • ysk
    Oct 15, 2012 - 1:17PM

    Don’t we also know that these Talibans are funded internationally and their reasons for killing the innocents is not drones? They will find another excuse if drones stop because they are getting funds for destabilizing Pakistan. Mr.Khan must know this fact too…So his policy that Talibans will stop their activities the day drones will stop coming in is misplaced.


  • Nonviolent Pacifist
    Oct 15, 2012 - 1:41PM

    This article has clearly rebutted the illogical labeling and baseless allegations against Imran Khan. Twisted imagination has cast doubts on his sincerity. He just wants to mobilize the majority of the tribal people, not necessarily the TTP to bring peace. Actually, if he succeeds, it would isolate and desolate the TTP. As for drones, he would like them to stop as innocents are killed along with the targeted others.


  • Shan Say
    Oct 15, 2012 - 3:22PM

    This letter should also have clarified that Imran wants to use force against the TTP as a last resort. That he believes that most tribal people would be “freed” of TTP influence if the tribal elders can be talked to and persuaded. That so far, any vociferous condemnation of TTP would deprive him of a chance and leverage to negotiate peace with them, in case he comes to power. That, however, does not mean that he approves of them or that he would not use force against them as a final option, should negotiation fail.


  • Rafiq
    Oct 16, 2012 - 6:23PM

    I never participated in election to vote.This time I was excited to vote for IK. But IK’s stance on TTP and Taliban ruined my excitment to vote. I am sorry to say that IK is a stubborn man. He thinks whatever he thinks is right. In Malala’s case he never felt the feelings and emotions of people. All the time he is talking drone drone drone. Everyone knows nobody can stop drones until US achieve their goal. TTP is a murder machine in our country.Killing innocent people. Had peace talks with TTP 13 times before. What we get TTP takeover Swat and video’s are all over you tube what they were doing.Mr Khan we don’t want talks with them, we want TTP and all terrorist should be eliminated from our country.


  • Hussain Syed
    Oct 17, 2012 - 6:16AM

    “The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation are fighting a jihad,” he added, according to a video of remarks to journalists.


  • SurelySure!!
    Oct 17, 2012 - 1:27PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:
    very well saaid Sir.


  • Mystic
    Oct 17, 2012 - 4:57PM

    It is fashionable to write against Imran Khan just to ‘feel good’ and demonstrate your liberal credentials without actually providing any thoughts for improvement in our society or the systems that you leech on.


  • GreenandWhite
    Oct 17, 2012 - 7:19PM

    @Shan Say: When the taliban MURDER our children for going to school is this not worthy of the last resort for you????? In any other country in the world this would be the last resort. But i guess you need to see much much more worse incidents happen. I guess your tolerance for evil is much higher. Yes and go ahead tell me how evil west its what all the cowards in the country do.


  • Joe
    Oct 27, 2012 - 3:03AM

    Khan is a Taliban appeaser. Anyone who tolerates terrorism as he does is incompatible with modern, secular democracy and must be eliminated. I suggest a drone strike as is done to most high level terrorist targets these days.


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