From British daily The Independent:
Imran Khan: Still pushing the boundaries
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Khan: ‘Innocent people are dying. There are no morals in this war‘
If Imran Khan were in the mountains now he would, he says, be ready for a fight. “If my women… my wife, my family, was hurt by a bomb, or killed, I would pick up a gun.” To shoot Americans, he means. Or the soldiers of Pakistan, his homeland and the country he still aspires to lead. It is a remarkable thing for a man like him to say, and when he does so, his heavily lined face looks as grim as you might expect. “The American attitude is shocking,” he says. “All they want is obedient slaves.”
This is not some inflamed Taliban leader. Imran Khan is the former playboy of the Western world, one of the greatest cricketers of all time and one of the few whose fame has transcended the sport. Particularly when the handsome all-rounder gave up his much-chronicled single life to marry the equally attractive Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of the late Sir James and herself a favourite of the gossip mags. They are now divorced, but their two young sons, Sulaiman Isa and Kasim, are waiting somewhere across the Thames for Khan to rejoin them for the half-term holiday.
First he must talk politics, because that is what he does these days. Imran Khan is in London to drum up money for the party he founded, and to tell people about the crisis engulfing his country. “The army is fighting against its own people. This is civil war.”
The rupee is plummeting. The government has been given $15bn to save it from financial meltdown, which cannot be allowed to happen to a nation that borders Afghanistan and has nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, America is pounding the tribal areas of the North West Frontier, which it believes is a nest of terrorists, and it is insisting the Pakistan army joins in, too. “Innocent people are dying,” says Khan in a deep voice, that of someone who assumes he will be listened to. “There are no morals in this war.”
Just as our conversation began he was told of reports that a US drone had fired missiles on a village, killing eight children. It was after that he said yes, if he were one of those tribal people he would feel justified in taking up arms.
Why? He tells me about a colleague in his constituency close to the frontier region, who was travelling with his family in two Jeeps. “Pakistani helicopter gunship comes on top [overhead]. The instructions are that the moment the helicopter gunship comes you stop your cars, get out and put your hands up. This is in your homeland, OK?” We are at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a grand building on the Thames, but his mind is in the mountains. “So they all did that. They all stopped the cars, got out and put their hands up. The guy came back and bombed them. He showed me the pictures. His six-year-old son lost both his legs. His brother gets killed. His brother’s son gets killed.”
Khan, 56, has a powerful presence, even from the far side of a wide boardroom table. “This man says, ‘I love Pakistan, but now where do I go for justice? Is there a court of law that will compensate me? No.’ He said, ‘I would pick up a gun now and fight. And who will I pick up a gun for? The Taliban. I don’t like the Taliban. But I will join them, because that is how I will seek justice.’ That is what is happening, every day.”
US carries out more airstrikes in Pakistan: here.
Musharraf summoned: here.