Defending blasphemy laws and seeking peace talks with militants: Five of Imran Khan's most controversial public posturings

Imran Khan sparked outrage in January when he lambasted feminism as 'a Western concept', saying in an interview that it had 'degraded the role of mother.'

Agence France-Presse July 27, 2018 22:15:00 IST
Defending blasphemy laws and seeking peace talks with militants: Five of Imran Khan's most controversial public posturings

Pakistan's former cricket captain is viewed as something of a liberal in the West, particularly in Britain where the press remember his high-flying lifestyle and marriage to Jemima Goldsmith. But Khan sparked outrage in January when he lambasted feminism as 'a Western concept', saying in an interview that it had 'degraded the role of mother.'

Critics accused him of pandering to his conservative vote base.

On blasphemy

Khan was accused of mainstreaming extremism by launching a full-throttled defence of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, which carry a maximum penalty of death. Just weeks before the election, Khan told clerics in televised comments that his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party 'fully' supports the blasphemy law 'and will defend it.'

"No Muslim can call himself a Muslim unless he believes that the Prophet Mohammed is the last prophet," he said — a statement that raised alarm among the Ahmadi sect, who are persecuted for their belief in a prophet after Mohammed.

Defending blasphemy laws and seeking peace talks with militants Five of Imran Khans most controversial public posturings

Imran Khan addressing the people of Pakistan in a televised address. AP

'Taliban Khan'

The ex-cricketer has earned the moniker 'Taliban Khan' for repeatedly arguing for peace talks with militants and for his party's alliance with Sami ul Haq, the so-called Father of the Taliban whose madrassas once educated Taliban stalwarts Mullah Omar and Jalaluddin Haqqani.

In 2013, Khan even suggested that the Pakistani Taliban should be allowed to open an office in the country.

The previous year, he had come in for criticism for his perceived lukewarm condemnation of the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl-turned-women's rights activist and Nobel prize winner.

American drone strikes

Khan, 65, has railed repeatedly against United States drone strikes on Pakistani territory, angering the South Asian country's biggest benefactor. He has claimed that the strikes have killed innocent civilians, something the American government denies.

In 2012 he was briefly removed from an international flight from Canada to New York and questioned by US immigration officials on his views about the strikes.

Corruption

Khan was elected largely on an anti-graft ticket — he has described corruption as a 'security risk' to Pakistan. But he drew flak for welcoming politicians from parties he has accused of being corrupt into PTI ahead of the election.

In April, Khan announced that he would refer 20 PTI lawmakers to an anti-corruption body after they were accused of selling votes during senate elections.

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