Taliban threatens to kill popular politician
Khan has been a popular figure in Pakistan since he led the country’s cricket team to victory in the 1992 World Cup. AFP PhotoThe Taliban have threatened to kill Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, if he holds a planned march to their tribal stronghold along the Afghan border to protest U.S. drone attacks.
Although the Pakistani Taliban also oppose the strikes, which have killed many of their fighters, spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said they would target Khan because he calls himself a “liberal.” He also warned they would attack anyone who participates in upcoming elections.
“If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him,” Ahsan told The Associated Press in an interview on Aug. 6 in the militant group’s stronghold of South Waziristan. “We will kill him.” The threat could come as a surprise to many in Pakistan who have criticized Khan for not being tough enough on the Pakistani Taliban and instead focusing most of his criticism on the government’s alliance with the U.S.
Taliban not seeking help
Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Movement for Justice party, has gained momentum over the last year and is famous in Pakistan because he led the country’s cricket team to victory in the 1992 World Cup.
Ahsan, the Taliban spokesman, seemed to ignore that distinction and said the militants didn’t want Khan’s help in opposing drone attacks. Khan has said he is planning to lead thousands of people in a march to Waziristan in September to demonstrate against the strikes.
Ahsan said the Taliban consider anyone who participates in elections, even Islamist parties, as infidels and will target them. “The election process is part of a secular system,” said Ahsan. “We want an Islamic system and will create hurdles to secularism.”