Imran Khan, Head of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf Party: US Aid Is Destroying Pakistan
Following are excerpts from an interview with Imran Khan, head of the Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, which was posted on the Internet on June 16, 2011:
Imran Khan: Who is benefiting from this war? The tiny elite. This sit-in was directed at the government. It was telling them: "Tell us the truth." What is the real truth? Have you given them the permission to kill our own people? Secondly, it was directed towards the Americans – that the violation of some country's sovereignty is against the United Nations charter. They are violating their own humanitarian laws. In the United States, all humanitarian laws are against anyone becoming judge, jury, and executioner.
The attack on the naval headquarters has shaken Pakistan. It has shaken Pakistan because there is a realization that if we keep on the path we are going, we could have mutiny in the army. Because this was clearly an inside job. Clearly, people from within the navy or the airforce were involved in this attack.
I have been warning against this for a while, because according to all the polls taken in Pakistan, all the surveys, over 80% of the Pakistanis think that the US is an enemy. Why do they think that of them as an enemy? Because they think the US is not fighting a war against terror. It's a war against Islam.
So, if 80% of the population thinks like that, then if you take it to the army, surely 80% of the armed personnel would also be thinking like that. That is why it is very dangerous – because so far, the attacks on General Musharraf both were from within the army. The attack on the headquarters in Pindi – that was an inside job. Fifty of our commandos were blown up in the base – an inside job. There have been a lot of people caught, within the army, and then whisked away, and they disappeared, because they were thought to be involved in some sort of subversion or mutiny…
Now if we keep going on this course which we have taken, it is so dangerous for Pakistan. It is dangerous for Pakistan because if anything happens within the army, the country is in real trouble, because that is the only thing that is holding the country together right now.
Here is the US, and people in the West, saying that Pakistan could be destabilized, that Pakistan's nuclear assets could fall into the wrong hands, and yet they are doing so far in Pakistan, by asking us… pushing us to do more now, sending our troops, forcing us to go into North Waziristan, is actually destabilizing the country. All the actions are leading to a scenario where it could possibly happen – that the country could be so destabilized that the nuclear weapons could all into the wrong hands.
May 2nd [the date of Osama Bin Laden's assassination] took us all by shock. It was the biggest shock because here was Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan – the number one shock. Number two – he was not in the tribal areas of the wild areas, and actually in a city. Number three – we heard that the Pakistan government, army, or intelligence agencies provided the intelligence. Yet they didn't finish the job. The Americans came and killed him.
Then, as the facts emerged, the whole situation got more confused. There were so many lies coming from everywhere. The Pakistani government and the prime minister lied. Then they contradicted themselves. First they said that we provided the intelligence, then they said that we had no knowledge of it, because there was a public backlash, because obviously, if you provided the knowledge, hwy didn’t you take him out, or why didn't you capture him?
Then they backtracked. First the army chief congratulated the Americans, and so did their president. Then, all three of them started talking about Pakistan's sovereignty being violated – 48 hours later. The prime minister of the president did not make a statement on the issue until a week later. So here are we Pakistanis hearing about this from President Obama.
So all this just added up to conspiracy theories, confusion, humiliation, a feeling of loss of sovereignty. There are so many question marks about Osama Bin Laden: Was he there? What was he doing there? Who kept him there? How did he avoid detection? How did the Americans find out? Why didn't the Pakistanis know about it? And so on.
The feeling in Pakistan is that we have a ruling elite that to fill its own pockets, rather than conducting reforms, which the country badly needs, rather than spending money on education, on human development, fighting corruption, setting up institutions, rule of law… What they are doing is taking a shortcut, taking money from the US, pretending to be this people who are fighting Islamic radicalism – the word used is "bulwark" against terrorism and Islamic extremism… They basically want the situation to continue just so the aid keeps coming, benefiting them, while the country sinks. They make a lot of money.
So people feel that the time has come for a change. Say "no" to aid. We do not want this aid. It is destroying our country. We want to stand on our own feet, be a sovereign country, and take responsibility for whatever happens within our borders. We should be… A sovereign, credible, democratic government should be responsible for all terrorism from its soil. But it can only do that if it is sovereign. If it is perceived to be a stooge of America – taking dollars to be a hired gun for the Americans, then all we are doing is fanning extremism, and this is a never-ending war which will destroy Pakistan.
Interviewer: Well, if your prediction is right, and Tehreek-e-Insaf forms the next government in Pakistan, will you tell the Americans to get out? Will you tell them to stop the drone attacks? Will you tell them: We don't want your aid?
Imran Khan: I think the first thing has to be: No to aid, because as I've said, aid has destroyed Pakistan.
A sovereign credible government will assure the Americans that there will be no terrorism from the Pakistani side. With Osama gone, why else should the Americans be staying there? If we give them a guarantee that they do not need to worry about terrorism from our soil, they should be happy.
Interviewer: Some powerful people in powerful places will be horrified by what you have just said. Are you not fearful for your own security?
Imran Khan: Well, you've got to go some time, so you might as well go for a good cause.