LONDON: Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Imran Khan Sunday said that Pakistan's elite liberals are the only group in the world that supports George W Bush's war ideology, adding a peaceful end to the war on terror was possible only through holding talks with the Taliban.
Giving an interview to a British newspaper, Imran Khan said when he opposes drone attacks his English-speaking enemies label him as 'Taliban Khan' while liberal sections of the society give him the name of 'an extremist' and to the militants he is a 'US stooge'.
The former cricket hero told the Mail on Sunday in a wide-ranging interview: “Never have I once given a statement in support of the Taliban. Never once have I failed to condemn an attack on civilians. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do – pick up a gun and charge against them?”
"It’s a very thin line. One slip of the tongue and you can be killed here. There’s that level of fanaticism.”
The paper said Khan has serious chances of making a breakthrough in the next general election as he has been able to mobilise those sections of the society who never took part in the electoral process.
War and corruption, Khan believes, are irredeemably linked: “We have the lowest tax to GDP ratio in the world – 61 per cent of our national MPs pay no tax at all. Keeping Pakistan as a frontline state and prolonging the war allows the elite to rake in the foreign aid.”
Khan said the attendances of thousands of people to his rallies is “the Pakistani version of the Arab Spring”.
“A corrupt status quo has been ruling the Muslim world, but now the majority want democratic rights. We have women who were educated in English-medium [speaking] schools, and we have boys who have been to the madrassas [religious schools]. Our support comes from across the class divide, and that’s why it’s so exciting.”
The paper said: “In the political salons of Islamabad, opinions differ as to how successful Khan is likely to be. But there is agreement that this time the PTI has a real chance of power, and that even if it doesn’t secure a majority, it will win a significant block of seats.”
Khan said: “For the past three decades, I have watched the country degenerate. Someone as privileged as me has a choice. I can try to do something, or I could do nothing, and in that case, I cannot complain.”
Khan said negotiated settlement with the Taliban is the only way forward to end the war, not only for Pakistan, but for the hapless British soldiers fighting in Helmand. “If you stop the drones, withdraw the army and engage the tribes, they are the ones who will, in time, win the war.”