Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s ‘Haqqani Tribe’ Comment is No Gaffe

Last year, in what has been later called ‘a slip of tongue’, Imran called Osama bin Laden a shaheed, a martyr.

4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Imran Khan in his interview with CNN, in a very condescending mood, explained  the real story of the Haqqanis to Becky Anderson.</p></div>

Propagating fake narratives is the best way for Pakistan to control dissent and justify supporting terrorists.

Imran Khan does it again — he became the laughing stock of half of the world, and, this time, of half of his country too. Live on CNN, he, in a very condescending mood, explained the real story of the Haqqanis to Becky Anderson.

According to Imran, the man who notoriously believes Africa is a state and Germany shares a border with Japan, said, “Haqqani is a tribe who lives in Afghanistan”. He goes on for a couple of minutes with the story of the poor Sirajuddin and his family being born in a refugee camp in Pakistan, where Pakistan “could not check if somebody was a Talibani” amongst 5 million refugees.


Within minutes, the social media was buzzing with outrage. To make a quick recap: Haqqani is not a tribe and not even a family. ‘Haqqani’ is how students and former students of the Darul Uloom Haqqania madrassa, located in Akora Khattak, designate themselves.

And the so-called Haqqani Network, one of the deadliest terrorist organisations in the world, is a group founded by Jalaluddin Haqqani, with the backing of the ISI, to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Akora Khattak is, of course, in Pakistan, precisely in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — in that same province where Imran Khan, who proudly calls himself a Pashtun (even if, according to his country fellows he cannot speak Pashtun to save his life), and his party ruled for years.

Imran Khan - Then & Now

Imran, the Pashtun ruler of a Pashtun province, was, with any evidence, quite different from today’s Imran, the current Prime Minister of Pakistan. Otherwise, he would have remembered who the Haqqanis are and from where they come. For the simple reason that in the Budget for the financial year 2016-2017, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Imran’s party, allocated 300 million Pakistani Rupees to fund the Darul Uloom Haqqania.

The budget was increased by PKR 277 million a year later on special directives from the Chief Minister’s discretionary funds. Maulana Samiul Haq, the head of Haqqania, was also backed by Imran and his party to get a seat in the Senate from KP.

To be fair, even back then, ‘Imran-Taliban-Khan’, as he is often called, was consistent with his current narrative about the Taliban in general and the Haqqanis in particular: according to him, in fact, funding a madrasa called the ‘University of jihad’ and ruled by a man who called himself “the father of Taliban” was absolutely the right thing to do.

Never mind if this is the institution that graduated mullah Omar, Jalaluddin Haqqani and his network, and a good number of al-Qaeda members, too. Giving them money and bringing Samiul Haq into Parliament (he lost) would have helped, according to Imran, assimilate the students into society, bring them into the mainstream and keep them away from radicalisation.

Memory Lapses and Slips of the Tongue

Back then, Imran Khan had said also that Maulana Samiul Haq had assured him of bringing reforms to the syllabus and the system of the seminary in return for grants. Well, something clearly went wrong and instead of bringing extremists into the mainstream and the mainstream, under the enlightened Imran’s rule, has become radicalised.

Last year, in what has been later called ‘a slip of tongue’, Imran called Osama bin Laden a shaheed, a martyr. And not for the first time.

To be precise, in the past, he has called the American blitz that led to the death of the al-Qaida chief in the past ‘an extrajudicial killing’ — but let’s say he was ‘taken out of context’.


The ‘context’ has been invoked also for one of his most famous speeches, the one in which he blames the victims of rapings for adopting western clothes and western rules — “men are not robots” after all — and saying that imposing a decent burqa on women is the right way to keep modesty in society and avoid harassment.

He was, and this time proudly and with no context or slip of tongue, standing in support of those advocating the slaughtering of the French in connection with the Charlie Hebdo trial.

According to him, with the Taliban rule, Afghans have broken “the shackles of slavery”, the same shackles he broke launching the Single National Curriculum.

In it, book covers proudly show father and son sitting on a sofa dressed in western clothes, while the mother and daughters sit on the floor in traditional attires with a scarf on their head. Half of the country is horrified, but who cares?

The truth is, Imran and his puppeteers have slips of tongue and memory lapses not because of old age, but because giving opium to masses in the form of religion and inciting hatred against the rest of the world by propagating fake narratives is the best way they have found to control any kind of dissent, justify supporting, nurturing and creating terrorists, and, importantly, to ask money from the West to fight terrorists and welcome the refugees they themselves have created.

(Francesca Marino is a journalist and a South Asia expert who has written ‘Apocalypse Pakistan’ with B Natale. Her latest book isBalochistan — Bruised, Battered and Bloodied’. She tweets at @francescam63. This is an opinion piece, and the views expressed are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for them.)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Edited By :Padmashree Pande
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