Pakistan's Prime Minister Contender Would End Drone Strikes, Reject U.S. Aid

PHOTO: Imran Khan, center, smiles as he addresses supporters during an election campaign rally, May 1, 2013, in Narowal, Pakistan.

Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician, is one of the top contenders to become Pakistan's next leader.

He heads the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf, or Movement for Justice party, which draws its support primarily from Pakistan's young and impoverished. It's likely that he or his main political rival, Mian Nawaz Sharif, will become the next leader of Pakistan.

Khan sat down with ABC News this week in Mansehra, a small town outside of Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. We asked Imran five questions, ranging from terrorism to how Pakistan's relationship with America will change if he is elected. These are his responses, edited only for brevity:

1. How will America's relationship with Pakistan change if you win the election?

It will change. Until now the U.S. has supported puppets. Now what has the U.S. learned? That puppets do not serve U.S. interests. In fact because of them there is more anti-Americanism in Pakistan than ever before. So the difference would be, God willing if we win, we would want to be friends of U.S., we would not want to be a client state of U.S. We don't want any U.S. aid. The war on terror, we want to fight our way, not how we're told, because by sending our army into the tribal areas on U.S. bidding, it has been a disaster for the U.S., (and) it's a bigger disaster for Pakistan.

2. Tell me about the war on terror. What will you do to defeat the Taliban?

We would first of all take the narrative of jihad away from the Taliban. Remember the narrative is that the Pakistani army is a mercenary army of the U.S. So because fighting for your freedom is jihad or a holy duty, you're fighting for god, and if you die you become a martyr, because they think the narrative is that Pakistan is fighting a U.S. war, therefore jihad is also fits against Pakistan army too.

So what we will do is disengage from the U.S. war, tell the U.S. we'll fight it our way. We don't want any aid, we don't want any drone attacks because drone attacks link us to the U.S. war. Drones are killing the same people the Pakistan army is fighting. And once we disengage, take away the narrative of jihad, we will then start a truth and reconciliation with our tribal people. So the idea would be to isolate those irreconcilable militants and wean away the bulk of the people who are our own tribal people, who are fighting because of collateral damage, unemployment, because they think the U.S. war is against Islam. So we'll wean them away and then we'll win the war. We'll win the war. Put it this way, the way to peace is through our tribal areas. There are about a million armed men in the tribal areas. There are only about 10,000 to 20,000 militants. If we win them over to our side, our tribal people will win the war.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...