Washington: A group of Pakistani dissidents have expressed dismay over Prime Minister Imran Khan calling slain al-Qaeda chief and 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden a “martyr,” saying this could be out of a “sinister reason” of putting the West, especially the US on notice.
Under the banner of South Asians Against Terrorism & For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum, the group that includes Pakistan’s former envoy to the US Hussain Haqqani, condemned Khan for making such a statement in Parliament.
What makes this doubly disgusting is that Imran Khan made this claim on the floor of Pakistan’s National Assembly. For, another Prime Minister of Pakistan, Yusaf Raza Gillani, had in selfsame, National Assembly on May 9, 2011, denounced bin Laden as a terrorist and had welcomed his elimination, it said in a statement.
Speaking in Parliament during the budget session on June 25, Khan called bin Laden a “shaheed” (martyr) and said that Islamabad faced “embarrassment” by taking part in America’s war on terror.
“For Pakistanis across the globe, it was an embarrassing moment when the Americans came and killed Osama bin Laden at Abottabad…martyred him. The whole world started abusing us after that. Our ally came inside our country and killed someone without informing us. And, 70,000 Pakistanis died because of the US’ war on terror,” Khan had said.
Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals in Pakistan’s garrison city of Abbottabad in May, 2011.
Criticising Khan’s statement, SAATH said, It should be noted that in addition to the havoc wreaked on 9/11, and later upon the wider world, bin Laden was directly responsible for the deaths and maiming of tens of thousands of Pakistanis and Afghans during the years he was plotting his terrible schemes whilst remaining hidden in Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to former president General Pervez Musharraf probably known to certain people in Pakistan’s Intelligence Services.”
“Many people explain this classification of bin Laden as a martyr’ to Khan’s known proclivity to be appreciative of extremist, Jihadist thought, therefore coming to be known by the nickname Taliban Khan’ some years ago, a nickname which has stuck, it added.
“However, there could be a deeper, even more sinister reason: that of putting the West, especially the US on notice, now that the endgame in Afghanistan is in sight, and the state of the Pakistan economy is in shambles,” the SAATH members said.
The group termed it as a “ploy” to inveigle more money out of Pakistan’s traditional donors.
Prominent SAATH members include former ambassadors Haqqani and Kamran Shafi, parliamentarians Bushra Gohar and Afrasiab Khattak and columnists Mohammed Taqi, Marvi Sirmed, Gul Bukhari and Taha Siddiqui.
Khan’s remarks also drew criticism from Opposition parties in Pakistan.