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US officials interrogate Pakistan's Imran Khan on drones

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Imran Khan, leader of the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI), who led a massive anti-drone march earlier this month, was Friday deplaned from a New York bound flight at Toronto Pearson International Airport. He was interrogated by the US immigration officials about his views on drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal areas.   After four-and-a-half-hour, Imran Khan and other PTI leaders were allowed to catch the next plane to New York.

In New York he talked about the incident and said: " I was taken off from plane and interrogated by US Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop. Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance."

In Islamabad, PTI spokesman Shafqat Mahmood deplored the incident. "PTI strongly condemns the off loading of Imran Khan at Toronto airport and questioning on principled stand against drones. US should apologize," he wrote on Twitter.

On October 6-7, Imran Khan led a anti-drone caravan, which consisted of scores of vehicles and hundreds of activists. Dozens of American and British peace activists joined the peace march to Waziristan, a poor, isolated tribal area of Pakistan where drones have killed so many people.

Imran Khan was in Toronto to attend a fund raiser for the PTI which is one of the leading political party in Pakistan and is expected to win substantial seats in the country's forthcoming elections.

In an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics program, Khan said on Thursday that he's the only Pakistani leader promoting a peaceful solution to the decade-long conflict -- and that his push for talks with the Taliban has wrongly branded him a pro-jihadist.

Khan said that he wants to spread the word to governments around the world -- including Canada's -- that much blood has been spilled and money thrown "down the drain" in a costly war that will only be resolved through negotiations with the Taliban. "Trillions of dollars spent. God knows how many hundreds and thousands of people killed. Is the world any safer?" Khan said.

Imran Khan was of the view that if he's elected, he would try to convince Western political leaders that drone attacks are driving anti-Americanism and helping militants, and if they continued, he would take his case to the United Nations to have it recognized as a breach of sovereignty.

He said he led the anti-drone march of around 100,000 people to engage the people of tribal areas because if you win the tribal people to your side then you win the war. "Military strategy by itself has failed, and sadly, people like us who advocate a political settlement are called pro-Taliban," he said. "If you win them over to your side, you win the war. If you push them on to the other side, it's a never-ending war."

In reply to a question, which U.S. presidential candidate he'd prefer to see in office, Obama or Romney, Khan said: "I would like that president to win the election who gives peace a chance, who stops this war on terror which is destroying my country, which is causing more anti-Americanism."

Imran Khan is visiting the United States to meet PTI supporters and raise funds for his party. Besides New York, he is also scheduled to visit the Silicon Valley.

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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