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October 30, 2012

Canadian clarification on Imran episode sought

October 30, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan sought clarification from the Canadian authorities on Friday for questioning Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan at Toronto airport on his way to New York.
Foreign Secretary Syed Jalil Abbas Jailani confirmed the action taken by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Canada Prince Akber Zaib. “He took up the matter with the authorities in Ottawa as a political leader from Pakistan had to face interrogation,” he said.
The Canadian Foreign Office clarified that Canadian immigration authorities had nothing to do with the incident. “In fact the US officials stopped him at the airport and they later allowed him to proceed on the journey,” Canadian authorities said. Later, the US officials were also approached on the matter giving Pakistan’s position on the issue as Imran Khan is a politician and distinguished sports hero of Pakistan, Syed Jalil said.
The US State Department said the issue was resolved later on. Khan was stopped at Toronto airport by the US immigration officials and allegedly questioned about his views on drone strikes.
Ali Zaidi, a senior party leader, demanded “a prompt and thorough inquiry into this sordid episode” and sought “an unconditional apology from the US government”. Meanwhile, sources told ‘The News’ that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was briefed about the episode on Monday morning and he too regretted the incident. The government could lodge a protest if required after studying the observations of the US officials, the sources said.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan was removed from a New York-bound plane by the US immigration officials on Friday and questioned for around two hours at Toronto’s Pearson International.
Imran Khan was flying to the US after attending an event organised to raise funds for his party. “I was taken off from the plane and interrogated by the US immigration in Canada on my views on drones,” Khan alleged in a Twitter

post after he was off-loaded along with his party colleagues. “My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop,” he wrote.
The US immigration procedures in Canada are carried out at the departing airport and not on arrival in the US like all other international flights.
Imran Khan had already completed the boarding procedure, but was called out with Fauzia Kasuri, head of PTI’s women’s wing. Both the leaders were questioned in separate rooms for two hours by different officials. Ms Kasuri also stressed that they missed their flight due to the investigation. She said that she was asked if her visit was planned and how long she expected to stay in the country. The news about their detention spread like a wildfire across the social media. Both were let go after an intervention from the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and the State Department.
PTI workers in Toronto informed Pakistan’s Acting Consul General in Canada who later contacted the Embassy in Washington. Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Sherry Rehman also confirmed on Twitter thatthe Pakistan Embassy pulled the strings to let go Imran Khan.
She wrote, “For the record, the Pakistan Embassy DC was immediately in touch with State Department over the holding of Imran Khan at US immigration.” The US Customs and Border Protection Agency confirmed that the incident took place. The agency did not comment on why Khan was detained.
However, Deputy US Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Hoagland tweeted about the incident saying, “Nothing to do with drones — he brought it up.” A US official on the condition of anonymity added that the agency had no mandate or jurisdiction to question anyone on their views about the drones.
Meanwhile, Washington and Toronto were abuzz with unconfirmed reports that Imran Khan was carrying a good amount of cash that he did not declare at the Customs. “Failure to declare monetary instruments in amounts of or over $10,000 can result in its seizure,” an official said, adding that in other cases a fine or arrest of the individual is applicable too.
The US officials did not confirm the report about the alleged cash. Fauzia Kasuri talking to ‘The News’ rejected it as well and said that Imran Khan was not carrying any wallet with him ever. When asked how he traveled without any cash on him at all, she said Imran Khan had many admirers “who are ready to help him wherever he is.”
Imran Khan later reached New York and attended another fund raiser before flying to Seattle in Washington state on the west coast of the US.

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