Khan says “Taliban are ‘terrorists’ and I don’t back them”
During a candid interview with Al-Jazeera, former Pakistani cricketer seemed confident when he considered the Taliban a ‘terrorist’ group.
Answering a question raised by the presenter, the head of the PTI said, “Yes they are [a terrorist group]. Anyone who kills innocent people is a terrorist.”
Imran Khan has always been labelled as a ‘Taliban apologist’ back home and has been criticised for allegedly defending Pakistani Taliban globally and particularly within Pakistan.
When asked about his alleged connections with them and whether he backs the group or not, Khan said, “This is absolute nonsense. It’s just not true.”
“All you have to do is look at my statements for the past ten years,” he continued.
Despite all his repeated clarifications and explanations, Khan received harsh political bashing when he recently confessed to have allocated a budget of Rs300 million for Darul Uloom Haqqania, a religious seminary infamous for educating Taliban fighters.
He said the seminary agreed to implement reforms in return for the allocated sum for the religious seminary.
In the interview, Khan also responded to accusations levelled by the former president of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, that the very donation was evidence that he supported ‘extremism’.
“This is totally out of context,” Khan said, explaining that the purpose of the funding from his party was “to get the madrassah system into the mainstream”.
He said, “If it was a university for jihad, it should have been shut down” by previous governments in Pakistan.
The PTI Chairman said Zardari’s comments were “like so many of the Muslim corrupt rulers, ex-rulers, trying to win western support by saying how liberal they are and how anti-Taliban they are”.