The following is the highlights of Press TV’s exclusive interview with the Chairman of Pakistan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), Imran Khan.
Press TV: Imran, the last time we spoke there was a different president running Pakistan and there was a different president in the White House. What has happened since then?
Imran Khan: When the 2008 elections came, the Bush administration wanted a similar puppet to replace Musharraf and that puppet turned out to be Asif [Ali] Zardari. So both the puppets allowed the Americans to attack Pakistani territories where they have killed — according to the government — so far 14 al-Qaeda in 60 drone attacks and 700 innocent civilians. So, everyone who knows anything about the area knows that these drone attacks are counter-productive. They might have killed 14 al-Qaeda, but they have produced thousands more al-Qaeda sympathizers. Every civilian that dies, the family then seeks revenge against the Americans and the Pakistani army, which is considered to be a stooge of the American army. So, therefore, Pakistan has seen chaos and unfortunately we do not have the leadership in Pakistan which can stand up and tell the Americans that it is a failed strategy and there needs to be a completely different strategy. Because this is a dollar-addicted leadership, it allows Americans to do anything, uses its own army against its own people for US dollars.
Press TV: Does it mean that the man in the White House, Barack Obama, is he better than his predecessor?
Imran Khan: What we have seen under President Obama is an escalation in Afghanistan. And, unfortunately, he does not give us the confidence that he has a proper grasp of that what is going on there. The tactics that are being used in Afghanistan are only making the problem worse. What was initially the Taliban resistance to the US, has now morphed into a Pashtun resistance, a Pashtun independence struggle against foreign occupation. And it is exactly the same situation as the Soviets faced in Afghanistan in the Pashtun areas. It is only a matter of time before it spreads to the Tajik and Uzbek areas. So, almost eighty percent of Afghanistan is involved in resistance struggle against the Americans. I do not see any strategy at this moment which is going to address this problem. I think if the current strategy is followed, the things will get from bad to worse.
Press TV: But it is not just the Americans is it? It’s the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who is also in agreement with President Obama about the policy in Afghanistan. Who is advising them?
Imran Khan: Well, as for the British Prime Minister it seems that as if whatever the Americans are doing they just follow the same line. It is very sad, because Britain has a very long experience of Afghanistan and the Pakistan tribal areas. There is a lot of material left behind by British writers, administrators and governors about this whole area and how it should have been dealt with. But, all the lessons have been ignored. And Tony Blair, basically, followed whatever George W. Bush did. And I am afraid that Gordon Brown is going along the same lines. What can you see (you can see is that) there are more British causalities and public opinion has already turned on the war in Afghanistan. And for the first time the majority of American people do not think that this is the war they want to own or which they are going to win. Well, the reason we do not talk about the British involvement is because it is only because of the Americans that the Britons are there. So, the US really has to understand that this is an unwinnable war and in fact the war is already lost, because the hearts and minds battle has been lost. You can only win a war if you win the people over to your side.
Press TV: But the West is trying to say that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won until Pakistan is sorted out. We keep hearing about the Pakistan Taliban. Who are they? And where are they from?
Imran Khan: Well, first of all this is just absolute nonsense. There was no problem in Pakistan. It was Afghanistan and the occupation of Afghanistan that then had a problem of destabilizing Pakistan. And this is just the fact. So I just do not know where they come up with this lie. Because, it’s just a blatant lie. How can they say that Pakistan has to be stabilized and then Afghanistan will become. Surely, stability in Afghanistan will stabilize Pakistan. In fact, a CIA ex-station chief of Kabul, Graham Fuller, actually wrote in the International Herald Tribune that unless and until NATO leaves Afghanistan, Pakistan is going to descend into radicalization and chaos which is absolutely right, because we had no Taliban in Pakistan. Before Pakistan was pressurized to send troops into Waziristan and General Musharraf, a military dictator was pressurized by the Americans to do that because he was getting military and US dollars from the Americans. So the moment he sent the troops in that is when the military operation led to the birth and the formation of Pakistani Taliban. Until 2004 we had no militant Taliban in Pakistan.
Press TV: Do you want to elaborate on that particular point?
Imran Khan: This was in September 2004, there was a drone attack which killed about 70 civilians and then there was a funeral the next day and another drone attack which killed another 40 or 50 people. And that was the spot of the reaction against their own tribal people. So our own tribal people rose up against the Pakistan army. And since there was Taliban versus Americans, anyone who fought the Americans or anyone supporting America which was the Pakistan army they all started calling themselves Taliban and gradually the more military operations we did, the more we created the phenomena of fighting Pakistani Taliban.
Press TV: More than two million possibly three million people have been displaced in Swat. Can you tell me what is happening there?
Imran Khan: Well, it is very important for people to understand that the Swat and tribal areas are completely different. The history, the geography and the people. So Pakistani Army doesn’t go into or hasn’t been into tribal areas since 1948. It is governed by its own laws. Swat is part of Pakistan, governed by Pakistani laws. The issue in Swat was completely different than the tribal areas. In the tribal areas people rose up directly because the Pakistani army under the US pressure was sent into the tribal areas by General Musharraf — a military dictator. That’s what caused the reaction in the tribal area. Resentment against the Pakistani army, resentment against the drone attacks and against Pakistani army using artillery bombardment in the villages caused a reaction when the people rose up. The demand of the people of Swat was that they wanted the old system of justice which was based on Sharia (Islamic law). Before the British came the whole Indian subcontinent was under the Sharia law. So by Sharia they basically meant their own system of justice, which prevailed and gave access to the justice for the common man before 1974. So people of Swat always had this movement going on, demanding their own system of justice back. So once the Taliban movement started in tribal areas and Pakistan army was sent into Swat because this movement was causing problems, they (tribal areas) then joined hands in with Taliban and called themselves also Taliban. But the genesis of the Taliban movement in Swat and the tribal areas was completely different. In my opinion the way the Pakistani army went into Swat were to go after 2,000 or 3,000 Taliban. They displaced two million people and destroyed their livelihoods and crops. They destroyed their fruit trees and crops. They incurred huge infrastructure damage — almost a billion dollar. It makes no sense to me, because what was the urgency? Was there any doubt that the 2,000 or 3,000 Semi-literate Taliban fighters could take on the 700,00-strong Pakistani army? Was there any doubt? So they made it into a big success, this propaganda that there was some great military achievement for just displacing these 2,000 or 3,000 fighters.
Press TV: Has there been a success?
Imran Khan: How can there be success when you go after 2,000 or 3,000 people and you make two million people homeless.
Video of IK discussing so called war against terror