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Imran Khan warns of Pakistan’s ‘suicide’

Posted by smeddum on June 14, 2009

Imran Khan warns of Pakistan’s ‘suicide’
Christina Lamb
June 14, 2009
Times online
Pakistan’s military offensive against the Taliban will backfire and fuel more extremism and bomb attacks, the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan warned last week.

“I have never been so depressed in my life,” he said. “Pakistan is on a suicidal course.”

Khan was speaking in London, where he was visiting his two sons by his ex-wife Jemima before heading to America to raise funds for refugees displaced by the fighting.

The 56-year-old leader of Pakistan’s Movement for Justice party has been branded pro-Taliban for speaking out against the military operation, which has driven 2.5m people from their homes.

“I’m not pro-Taliban,” he said. “But my point is: shouldn’t we have looked at other options? How do you justify using heavy artillery, helicopter gunships and F-16 fighter-jets in civilian areas? Who in the world does this? Meanwhile all the top Taliban leadership have escaped. It’s so inhuman, what they have done; it will backfire.”

Khan pointed out that the launch of the operation coincided with President Asif Ali Zardari’s visit to Washington in late April, after which the US agreed a five-year deal worth $1.5 billion (£910m) a year. “Was this operation to save the people of Swat or to get dollars from the Americans?” he asked.

“Only 10 days earlier, Parliament had passed a resolution endorsing a peace deal in Swat with the Taliban. Why was there no discussion? A military operation should have been the last resort.”

Khan insisted that Pakistan would never contain extremism as long as American troops remained across the border in Afghanistan. “Hatred of America is much more than of the Taliban,” he said.

The first European Union-Pakistan summit will be held in Brussels this week at which Zardari will call for more aid for the refugee crisis.

“How do we look after these refugees?” Khan asked. “Already you see the anger. This is a very sorry chapter in Pakistan’s history.”

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