Imran Khan says attack on Salman Rushdie unjustifiable
- Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan condemned the attack on author Salman Rushdie
- Khan said while anger of the Islamic world at The Satanic Verses was understandable, it does not justify the attack
- Imran Khan said he expected Afghan women to assert their rights in the face of Taliban rule
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack on Salman Rushdie, describing it as “terrible” and “sad”, and adding that while the anger of the Islamic world at Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses was understandable, it doesn’t justify the assault.
Khan also said he expected Afghan women to “assert their rights” in the face of Taliban restrictions in a Guardian interview in which he tried to tone down his reputation as a firebrand. Khan said his staff and followers are being persecuted and intimidated and he is battling eight-year-old charges of illicit campaign financing that could lead to him being banned from politics.
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A decade ago Khan pulled out of an event in India as Rushdie was also to attend and the two men exchanged insults, but Khan does not appear to have expressed support for violent action against the Mumbai-born author.
Asked for his response to the knife attack in New York that left Rushdie badly wounded, Khan said: “I think it’s terrible, sad. Rushdie understood, because he came from a Muslim family. He knows the love, respect, reverence of a prophet that lives in our hearts. He knew that,” Khan said. “So the anger I understood, but you can’t justify what happened.”
A year ago, Khan caused consternation in the west and among many Afghans when he welcomed the Taliban’s seizure of power, saying it was “breaking the chains of slavery”. He defended the Taliban’s treatment of women and girls, describing it as a local “cultural norm” and noted: “Every society’s idea of human rights and women rights are different,” the Guardian quoted him as saying.
One year on, women are still excluded from the Afghan workforce and girls over 14 banned from attending school. Khan, though, insisted that change had to come from within Afghanistan.
“Eventually Afghan women, the Afghan people, will assert their rights. They are strong people,” he said. “But if you push the Taliban from the outside, knowing their mindset, they will just put up defences. They just hate outside interference.”
Ever since losing a vote of no confidence in April, Khan said his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), had been in the line of fire by the new government and the security forces with the aim being pushing it off the political stage.