U.S. officials pull Pakistani politician off plane

NEW YORK Sat Oct 27, 2012 1:32pm EDT

Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), wears a turban while addressing his supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Musa Khel, located in the province of Punjab October 6, 2012. REUTERS/Saad Arsalan

Imran Khan, cricketer-turned-politician and head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), wears a turban while addressing his supporters as he leads a peace march against U.S. drone strikes from Islamabad to South Waziristan, in Musa Khel, located in the province of Punjab October 6, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Saad Arsalan

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pakistani politician Imran Kahn, a vocal critic of U.S. drone strikes, was briefly delayed and questioned by U.S. immigration officials in Toronto before being allowed to board a flight to New York, prompting his party to demand an apology from Washington.

Khan told his followers on Twitter that he was detained and interrogated Friday about his views on drones.

A State Department official confirmed Khan had been briefly detained, but said the former Pakistani cricket star was later released to go the United States. "The issue was resolved and Mr. Khan is welcome in the United States," the official said.

Ali Zaidi, senior vice president of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, demanded an apology from U.S. authorities for their two-hour questioning of Khan and his traveling companions, as well as a thorough investigation.

The State Department gave no details about why Khan was detained. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said it was prohibited from discussing specific cases.

Khan, who led a protest march to northern Pakistan this month to protest U.S. drone strikes, vowed to continue opposing the deadly attacks. "Nothing will change my stance," he said.

"I was taken off from plane and interrogated by U.S. Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop," Khan tweeted on Friday afternoon.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party said the politician arrived safely in New York on Friday, the first day of the Muslim Eid-al-Adha holiday, after the delay at the Toronto airport and went directly to a fundraising lunch.

Zaidi, of the party, said the incident violated ethical and diplomatic norms and the Pakistani government should complain to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad.

Calling Khan "a celebrated national hero" and a "global icon of colossal stature," Zaidi wrote on the party's website that to "subject him to such clumsy and vicious treatment speaks volumes about the exasperation induced in the American ranks by his heroic and patriotic-minded opposition to the drone program."

In an email, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency declined to comment on the case, but said travelers who wanted to enter the United States bore the burden of proof to establish that they were eligible for admission, and that included overcoming "ALL grounds of inadmissibility."

Pakistani authorities earlier this month stopped a protest led by Khan from entering the troubled region of South Waziristan, a tribal area frequently hit by drone strikes.

Khan blames the Pakistan government for allowing the United States to operate in the country, and has said he will order the Pakistani air force to shoot the unmanned planes down if he wins next year's elections in Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Khan led a march to northern Pakistan to protest the drone strikes, which have killed between 2,600 and 3,400 Pakistanis, according to the independent London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Some Pakistanis say Khan is fanning anti-American sentiment to bolster his political career and criticize him for refusing to condemn atrocities by the Taliban or Pakistani army.

Others praise him for reaching out to Pakistan's northern tribal areas and say he is standing up for a war-ravaged population ignored by mainstream politicians.

The United States says the strikes have killed top Taliban and al Qaeda commanders and that civilian casualties are minimal. But it has not said how targets are selected or how the military determines whether the dead were fighters or civilians.

(Reporting by Katherine Houreld in Islamad and Andrea Shalal-Esa in Washington; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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Comments (7)
san-man wrote:
Imran Khan has mainly lived his life as a playboy, fathering children with various women he never stuck around for, including actress Goldie Hawn. A fellow Pakistani politician more dark-skinned than Khan once commented about how when looking all these children, one could certainly see Khan’s resemblance in them. Angered, Khan replied in public that he’d recently been on a trip to Africa, and that looking at all the dark-skinned children there, he could see that politician’s face in them.

So Khan’s own racist nature lurks not very far below his suave, charismatic and thin-skinned surface.

It’s important to understand that Islam is a religion designed for Low-EQ people who have very little self-control. Hence, the ample evidence of how easily riled its followers are into violence. Ultra-strict religions are designed for Low-EQ people who lack self-control, and likewise such ultra-strict belief systems become magnets for those with little self-control.

Another prominent example of this would be lustful swaggering playboys who can’t keep it in their pants, and then later turn to ultra-strict piety at the end of their life. They think that rebounding to the opposite extreme then magically wipes the slate clean and gives them fresh credibility. Ah, such is the power of Allah’s “forgiveness”

For all of Khan’s professed piety, his political speeches never include urging men to stand by women they’ve fathered children with, or staying around to raise those children. For him, Islamic faith is meant for “grander” things like rallying the faithful against drones.

Oct 27, 2012 1:36pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
DHites wrote:
Since he is just a politician, not a representative of the Pakistani government he has no diplomatic immunity and IS subject to being stopped and questioned about his motives for entering the country. ESPECIALLY since he has been very outspoken and critical of both his government and the US government.

Oct 27, 2012 2:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
desertlover wrote:
I agree. Drones must stop…..being so few. Add more and more and more !!

Oct 27, 2012 2:37pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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