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Pak politician Imran Khan completes US tour despite interrogation

Publication Date : 30-10-2012


Chief of Pakistan's Tehrik-i-Insaaf (PTI) party Imran Khan reached Los Angeles yesterday to complete a four-city tour to collect funds for the party, three days after he was offloaded and interrogated by US immigration officials in Canada for his "stance against drone attacks".

Khan has already held three fundraisers in New York, Seattle and San Francisco, collecting more than US$600,000 for his election campaign. He was expecting another $200,000 in Los Angeles last night before flying out to Dubai.

On Friday, Khan boarded an American Airlines plane from Toronto to New York to speak at a fundraising dinner in Long Island but was offloaded and interrogated for an hour.

“I was taken off from plane and interrogated by US immigration in Canada on my views on drones,” he said in a twitter message on Friday afternoon. “My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop.”

Khan attended a fundraiser in Brampton, Canada, on Thursday night, urging Pakistani-Canadians to support his party’s efforts to stabilise Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the US State Department has said the issue which caused American authorities to offload and interrogate Khan had been solved.

“We are aware that Imran Khan was briefly delayed in Toronto before boarding the next flight to the United States,” a State Department spokesperson told reporters. “The issue was resolved. Mr Khan is welcome in the United States.”

Earlier, US Customs and Border Protection spokesman Joanne Ferreira told reporters there was nothing unusual about Khan’s interrogation.

“Under US immigration laws, applicants for admission bear the burden of proof to establish that they are clearly eligible to enter the United States,” she said.

Although the interrogation caused Khan to miss his flight, he attended his party’s fundraiser in New York.

“Nothing will change my stance. My stand on drones is very clear. I did not say sorry to them,” Khan later told reporters.

Masud Raja, PTI’s finance secretary in North America, said Mr Khan was taken off the plane with Fauzia Kasuri, the president of the party’s women wing.

The Canadian media reported that US immigration officials also questioned him about his views on Jihad and about whether or not he was going to protest in the US against drone strikes.

A vilification campaign preceded Khan’s arrival in North America, mainly by people of Pakistani origin unhappy with his views.

“Will Hillary Clinton do the honourable thing and bar Imran Khan from entering the US and sullying American soil? Will she put an end to the appeasement of Islamists?” Tariq Fateh, a Pakistani Canadian, wrote in the Toronto Sun newspaper, calling Khan a “hate monger” and a Taliban supporter.

The American Islamic Leadership Coalition from Phoenix, Arizona, wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week, urging her to revoke the US visa granted to Khan.

“Granting individuals like Khan access to the US to fundraise is against the interest of the people of Pakistan and the national security interests of the US,” the group wrote.


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