My name is Khan, and I’m not a terrorist
Dr Shahid Masood, I read your tweet and I couldn’t resist, hence the title.
Right. Has anyone ever had the pleasure of being stared at in an airport by nervous bystanders after 9/11? Not a desirable experience by any measure. Ever had the privilege of being frisked at security check for twice as long as the person before you?
Anyone ever been the not so random one picked at random for a passport check?
Anyone been taken off a plane? No? You obviously don’t have enough opinions to qualify.
But guess who does?
The who, what, where, why and when’s will become more apparent in these few days, but a few days ago it was confirmed by the man himself, Imran Khan, that he was taken off a plane at Pearson Airport, Toronto, boarded for New York where he was due to attend a PTI fundraising dinner.
Khan was quick to tweet after rumours had started flying about, and alleged that he was interrogated about his view on drones. Khan added that his “stance is known. Drone attacks must stop”. It appears nothing became of the ‘interrogation’ and Imran Khan went to New York, having missed the PTI fundraising lunch planned there for him.
Many PTI supporters are demanding an apology from the US government.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has not yet issued its official stance on this but it will be interesting to see whether or not they demand a formal apology from the US for this incident. It seems that more so than Imran Khan however, this incident has diverted attention towards the US Nusrat Javeed, usually an outspoken and often snide critic of Imran Khan first tweeted of the predictability of this incident saying;
‘People like me fully know the limits of freedom when it comes to THEIR SECURITY. Let’s get real, wake up and smell the coffee.’
Okay. Pretty bland for Nusrat Javeed but interesting point raised.
Fact; the US has no intentions of stopping drone attacks in Pakistan with both presidential candidates publicly in favour of drones. It seems that reports from Stanford and various credible institutions that highlight civilian deaths and inefficacy of drones don’t come into the equation.
Fact; Imran Khan is the biggest and most outspoken critic of drone attacks in Pakistan. More recently the chairman of PTI, whose plan for peace through dialogue and protest has been referred to by the critically acclaimed Pakistan journalist Syed Talat Hussain as a “green peace approach”, has more than alluded to shooting down the drones if the US and beyond were to respond in a rigidly unfavourable way to peace talks, if his party, PTI were in power.
PTI firmly stands by their stance that military action is a tried, tested and failed method of targeting militants and along with a breach of sovereignty in Pakistan is responsible for the increasing levels of polarisation and extremism in the country, hence fuelling a vicious circle. Their well-publicised peace march to Waziristan last month became the buzz topic in Pakistan, attracting much attention from around the world.
Loved it or hated it, it was pretty damn hard to miss.
So why after all this, and a day after Khan’s candid interview in Canada and after having boarded the plane, did the US immigration suddenly remember that they wanted to quiz him about drones?
The common American in general is perhaps not the most well informed about the happenings outside their own starred and striped world, but boarding the leader of a political party off a plane by nationals of a country that likes to consider itself as one of the ultimate pioneers of free speech, doesn’t quite make the cut.
Articles like the irresponsibly written ‘Will Hilary Clinton ban Imran Khan’ by Tarek Fatah first published in the Toronto Sun on October 16, definitely didn’t help, and either fuelled or were made to fuel this situation. Fatah concluded by asking, will Hilary Clinton do the honourable thing and bar Imran Khan from entering the US and sullying American soil?
One thing is for sure, the US immigration officials and/or government officials will always have enough buzz words to justify themselves to their own people. I doubt they will see the need to go to any extra effort to justify themselves to anyone else, especially PTI or Pakistan in general.
Taken off a plane, the day after he re-asserts that he will not be a stooge of the US, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess why things happened the way they did.
If anything, some may be grateful of Khan’s timely visit to the US, taking it as an opportunity and context for them to start introducing him to their nation. After all, something needs to come up on Google when in the possible near future the average American asks, who is the man that’s shooting down our drones?
The original version of this post can be seen here.
Follow Sabreena on Twitter @sabreena_razaq
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.