Imran Khan’s interrogation

Imran Khan’s interrogation

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan is on a trip to Canada and the US these days, gathering support, making appearances and showing the voting public that he is a viable candidate for the upcoming elections.

However, this visit of his has been put to the test with Imran Khan having to go through a rather harrowing ordeal at the hands of US airport and security authorities. The PTI chairman was only allowed to board a plane from Toronto to New York on the condition that he bear detention and be asked some ‘questions’ by US immigration authorities. This act by US authorities has riled up the PTI senior leadership with the senior vice president of the party, Ali Zaidi, demanding that an apology be issued immediately for this undue interrogation of Mr Khan.

The US State Department is staying mum about the whole issue, saying that it is not at liberty to discuss specific cases while Mr Khan says that he was delayed and interrogated because of his “views on drones”. The fact remains that Imran Khan is now a known politician in Pakistan, heading the fastest growing new political party in the country and, after all is said and done, deserves to be treated as such. He is not the leader of some banned militant group or hate organisation, nor is he a threat to the security of the US — he should not have been made to feel as though he were.

Even Mr Khan’s detractors will agree — this was an unfortunate incident, one that has no place in a democracy. After all, a democracy is all about having the freedom to express your beliefs and stage your protests albeit in a peaceful manner. Yes, Mr Khan is known for his stand against drone strikes and is recognised as being a politician who takes a somewhat softer stance towards the Taliban insurgents.

He has even been criticised at home for wanting to negotiate with the militants after all the bloodshed they have caused but, at the end of the day, he has not done anything wrong. He has only exercised his right to protest in a free democracy — a culture and political process he himself, and the entire western world, believes in. Then why was he, literally, offloaded from a flight and made to feel as though he were some sort of criminal? The fact of the matter is that this was just another case of the US and its state authorities flexing their muscle.

Imran Khan was made a rather unimaginative example for having the gall to disagree with the US and its policies. While many at home do not agree with Mr Khan’s inclination towards politicising the country’s escalating anti-Americanism, acts such as the one we see here committed by the US authorities may appal even detractors. While the US never hesitates to share with the world its love for freedom of expression — and protest is a very potent form of expressive freedom — and the rights given to it by these constitutional freedoms, it demonstrates how intolerant it can be if anyone else practices these same liberties.

It is well within Imran Khan’s rights to peacefully oppose any US or local policy he deems fit, whether through a march to Waziristan or otherwise. He is a fairly well known international celebrity and causes that he supports do have the potential to gain momentum. Is this frightening enough for the US for it to resort to bullying tactics? This has been a very unwise move by the US as it has only served to further cement the distrust Pakistanis have for their policies and claims of democracy. Mr Khan has a point of view and, as long as it hurts no one, it should have been respected. – Dailytimes