Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > Taliban supporter Imran Khan meets with American politicians to drum up support for his anti Musharaf Islamist party
Taliban supporter Imran Khan meets with American politicians to drum up support for his anti Musharaf Islamist party
January 25, 2008
Imran Khan has met with Harry Reid and other US politicians to rally support for his anti Musharraf movement. He also spoke at the Harvard Club in New York."After meeting Mr Khan, Senator Reid called for the US President, George Bush, to to consider reducing non-development aid to Pakistan if the upcoming elections were not free and fair". Khan's party is planning to tell people to stay away from the Pakistani elections According to a PR put out by his party in 2003:
"Reacting to Gen. Musharraf's claim that the politicians criticizing his policies know nothing about policy and national interests he challenged General Musharraf to live TV debate on national issues and let the people decide. The PTI Chief stated in the 80s the West sanctified Jihad and we proudly pursued it as an instrument of state policy. Today, Jihad is being portrayed as terrorism by the establishment on the directives of the West.http://www.insaf.org.pk/press/2003Jan/press_release_2004Apr04.htm
Imran Khan's instigation of last years Koran flush rumor riots have earned him his street creds by the Taliban supporting MMA. Khan's new partnership of his party Tehrik-e- Insaf together with the pro Taliban MMA prove that his transformation from Westernised millionaire playboy crickeer to radical Islamist 'fundi' is now complete. His divorce from UK born billionaire's daughter wife may have to do with the fact that Khan's new cronies believe that women belong in burqas locked up at home, and his ex's Jewish father was considered a political liability.
It was Imran Khan, the anti Musharraf politician, called a press conference to draw attention to the Koran flushing rumor. He was a recent speaker at the Islamist Conference in Toronto entitled "Reviving the Islamic Spirit". Muslims returning to the US from the conferences are suing the DHS for 'profiling' after being fingerprinted and interrogated at the border .
Poster for the "Reviving the Islamic Spirit" conference Sheikh Yusuf, Suwaidan, Khaled, singer Yusuf and Khan
The Oxford educated ex cricketeer/playboy who was married to a Jewish billionaire's daughter, Jemima Khan, and became a 'born again Muslim' as a result of the Rushdie affair . Khan recently divorced his wife (who is now dating actor Hugh Grant), and formed a political party Tehreek - e- Insaaf, and reinvented himself as an anti Western 'man of the people' advocating the overthrow of Musharref and the establishment of an Islamic welfare state in Pakistan. Khan has a lot to gain from formenting unrest among the masses in Pakistan, which could lead to a popular uprising fueled by anti American sentiment and result in the collapse of Musharref's American backed government. His broadcasting of the false Koran story was a deliberate attempt to incite protests, and garner publicity for himself and his party.
January 25, 2008 · A former cricket star who leads one of Pakistan's minority parties spent time in Washington this week meeting with lawmakers and speaking out against U.S. support of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Imran Khan, an international celebrity since his days as a sports star, leads a much smaller party than that of Benazir Bhutto, the leader who was killed last month. But in Pakistan, he's nearly as well known as Bhutto.
And he says that next month's elections there won't be real, if they happen at all.
Musharraf removed the independent judges who would referee them. Yet Khan knows the president remains a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.
"Gen. Musharraf has done a brilliant PR job here where he has convinced the people that he is one man holding these hordes of terrorists, the bastion against these extremists...." Khan says.
In an effort to change that image of Musharraf, Khan met this week with U.S. congressional leaders and spoke before audiences at a Washington think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and at the National Press Club.
Khan Artist Imran Khan, the man who sparked the Newsweek riots: Islamist politician by day, London playboy by night. by James Forsyth and Jai Singh 05/31/2005 12:00:00 AM
WITH 17 PEOPLE DEAD and anti-American sentiment even higher than usual in the Muslim world, people are looking for someone to blame for the riots that flowed from Newsweek's Koran story. So far, it has been pinned on everyone from Mark Whitaker to the U.S. military. But the real villain is Pakistani politician Imran Khan.
On Friday, May 6 Khan catapulted the 300-word Newsweek story about a Koran being flushed down the toilet into headline news across the Muslim world by brandishing the article at a press conference and demanding that Pakistani president Gen. Pervez Musharraf secure an apology from George W. Bush for the incident. It is unlikely Khan chanced upon the item. Just days before, Khan had tried to spark a similar firestorm over a Washington Times cartoon depicting the Pakistani government as America's lapdog. Clearly in search of grist for the anti-American mill, Khan's demagoguery speaks to his own two-facedness and to a downside of military rule in Pakistan.
KHAN EMBODIES THE HYPOCRISY of Muslim elites who inveigh against the West by day and enjoy its pleasures by night. His fame in Pakistan comes from cricket not politics: Khan is the best cricketer Pakistan has ever produced. But in London many remember him as an even greater playboy. Throughout the 1980s Khan was linked to a string of beautiful women. In 1988 he told Australia's Sunday Mail, "Pakistan society encourages marriage. There, I lead a very steady, comfortable life. Here, it is more exciting. The pace is faster. Because of the nightclubs and parties, it is a very good place to be single."
But as his cricket career wound down and he began to develop political ambitions, Khan became more reticent about his lifestyle. In 1992 when a London Evening Standard reporter asked him if he found his conquests fulfilling he turned bashful: "Er, by answering that question I put myself in a difficult position because this will get quoted in Pakistan. And in Pakistan, the mere fact that you admit you're having affairs upsets a lot of people's sensitivities. I respect my own culture and a lot of young people look up to me. It's a big responsibility for me not to make these admissions in public. Everyone knows I'm a single man and a normal man. But there's no need to stick it down their throats." His ex-girlfriends were less discreet, though. One observed to the Times, that same year, that Imran "juggled his girlfriends extremely elegantly . . . and he likes mangoes."
After his playing career ended in 1992, Khan entered politics under the tutelage of Lt.-Gen. Hamid Gul, the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan. (Gul believes that September 11 was a U.S. conspiracy.) Khan, a man who once captained the Oxford University cricket team and was a feature at London's trendiest places, now turned against the culture he had previously enjoyed.
In 1995 he denounced the West with its "fat women in miniskirts" (presumably the skinny ones in miniskirts Khan had dated were okay) and proclaimed that the "West is falling because of their addiction to sex and obscenity." He also chastised Pakistanis who looked to the West for ideas, saying "I hate it when our leaders or elite feel that by licking the soles of the feet of foreign countries we will somehow be given aid and we will progress."
So it came as something of a surprise that year when he married an English society beauty, Jemima Goldsmith, who was half his age and far worse--for the Islamists he was courting politically--half-Jewish. The reaction to the marriage in Pakistan was hostile and put a rapid stop to Khan's political momentum. In a Pakistani newspaper column defending his marriage Khan mused that, "I suppose if my marriage proves one point, it is that I am not a politician."
Khan initially won liberal and Western hearts by building a cancer hospital and fashioning himself as a reformer, but he has turned increasingly to hard-line Islamist politics. After Khan cast a vote in favor of the Islamist candidate for prime minister in 2002, a leader in his party told a Pakistani monthly, "Khan has more than a soft corner for the ousted Afghan Taliban. He thinks that the orthodox religious militia did a great service to Afghanistan and Islam before they became a target of the Americans." However, Khan could never become the standard-bearer of Pakistan's Islamists while married to a Western girl--even if she had converted to Islam. Unsurprisingly, in 2004 he and Goldsmith divorced, each citing cultural differences.
Khan's ambition burns brightly but he is the only member of his party in parliament, and enjoys little popular support. His strategy for getting to the top is to climb on the anti-Musharraf bandwagon. "By the time we have the next general elections," said Khan recently, "we would see two broad-based political alliances in the country, pro-Musharraf and anti-Musharraf." The easiest way to attack Musharraf, of course, is to attack his American protectors. Unfortunately, Musharraf has decided he will stay in power beyond 2007, keeping Khan's incentive to bash America intact. The rise of men like Imran Khan is the price America pays for backing a Muslim dictator--no matter how progressive--in the name of stability.
NOT THAT KHAN scorns America entirely: He likes its money. On May 15, just days after the riots killed 17 people and injured dozens of others, Khan was in Washington, D.C. raising $175,000 for his cancer hospital. His fundraising tour also took him to Denver, Los Angeles, and New York. But don't expect him to mention back in Lahore that American generosity is keeping his hospital going.
Even his political allies find Khan's duplicity hard to take. In 2002 one of his party leaders remarked: "Even we are finding it difficult to figure out the real Imran. He dons the shalwar-kameez and preaches desi and religious values while in Pakistan, but transforms himself completely while rubbing shoulders with the elite in Britain and elsewhere in the West." Khan claims that his marriage proved he wasn't a politician but his divorce and his recent demagoguery show that he now is one, albeit one of the worst sort.
James Forsyth is an assistant editor and Jai Singh is research editor at Foreign Policy.
Imran Khan's choice of candidate for prime minister has left many of his ardent fans, especially women, dumbfounded. The cricketer-turned-politician voted for Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal's nominee for premier, against the advise of many liberal and progressive members within his Tehrik-e-Insaaf (TI).
Imran used his solitary vote in parliament in Rehman's favour, forwarding the argument that the MMA is the only political force that is independent and does not take dictation from abroad. He maintained that he found himself ideologically and politically close to the MMA, which denounces President Pervez Musharraf's support to the international coalition in the war against terrorism, especially in neighbouring Afghanistan.
"Khan has more than a soft corner for the ousted Afghan Taliban," a senior leader of his party said on the condition of anonymity. "He thinks that the orthodox religious militia did a great service to Afghanistan and Islam before they became a target of the Americans."
Also, the MMA's firm stand against Musharraf, especially his series of controversial constitutional amendments, won the heart of Pakistan's former speedster, he added.
Imran's protracted bitterness towards the Pakistan Peoples' Party and anger against the Pakistan Muslim League left him with no alternative other than the MMA, which secured 86 votes, including those of the Pakistan Muslim League (N).
Khan's vote for the pro-Taliban cleric has added to the political confusion within his party, which performed poorly in the October 10 elections. "It would have been understandable, had Imran voted for a candidate that was nominated jointly by the opposition," said a senior Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader. "But by voting for the MMA, he most certainly has lost his standing among the liberal, democratic and progressive elements in society."
Human rights groups and the majority of the moderate and liberal Muslims have been extremely critical of the MMA's narrow interpretation of Islam and the conservative views of its leaders on women, education, fine arts, television and sports. By voting for the MMA, the Tehrik-e-Insaaf chief has, in effect, endorsed the religious alliance's stand on these issues as well.
Will the women's wing of the Tehrik-e-Insaaf, led by Jemima, Khan's British-born wife, endorse the Taliban-like interpretation of Islam? That remains a moot point.
Mairaj Mohammed Khan, the Tehrik-e-Insaaf's secretary general who has spent a lifetime advocating socialism and secular politics, finds it hard to defend the somersaults of the party leader, who has drifted from one extreme (of being pro-Musharraf) to the other extreme (of being anti-Musharraf) within a short span of time.
"Even we are finding it difficult to figure out the real Imran," quipped another of his Karachi-based leaders. "He dons the shalwar-kameez and preaches desi and religious values while in Pakistan, but transforms himself completely while rubbing shoulders with the elite in Britain and elsewhere in the west."
Many in the Tehrik-e-Insaaf would have preferred to see Imran abstain from the voting like the veteran Pakhtoonkhawa Milli Awami Party leader Mahmood Khan Achakzai.
"But such political maturity is perhaps too much to ask or expect of Imran," says a Karachi-based Tehrik-e-Insaaf leader and a close aide of Mairaj Mohammed Khan's. "It is understandable why people do not take Imran and his party seriously in politics," he said. "His self-righteousness and high-flying principles fail to explain the contradiction between his strange fondness for the maulanas and his passion for all the good things in life which have come from the west.