Khan Criticized for Calling bin Laden a “Martyr”

  • Khan made the remarks while addressing the Pakistani parliament on the deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington.
  • Prime Minister Khan expressed anger over the US military's operation against Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan.
  • "He destroyed my nation, and [Khan] is calling him a martyr," Mr Asif said in parliament.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has come under fire for calling former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden a “martyr” in a speech to the country’s parliament on Thursday. Pakistan’s opposition parties have sharply criticized Khan since the remarks, Reuters reported.

Imran Khan is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Pakistan and the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Before entering politics, Khan was an international cricketer and captain of Pakistan national cricket team, leading the team to the victory in 1992 Cricket World Cup.

He made the remarks while addressing the Pakistani parliament on the deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington. Pakistan’s foreign ministry issued a statement against the US State Department in a recent report citing Pakistan as a safe haven for regionally active terrorist groups.

“While the report recognizes that al Qaeda has been seriously degraded in the region, it neglects to mention Pakistan’s crucial role in decimating al Qaeda, thereby diminishing the threat that the terrorist group once posed to the world,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Prime Minister Khan raised the issue of Osama bin Laden in Parliament on Thursday, in the wake of a statement from Pakistan’s foreign ministry in response to a US State Department report.

“The way we helped America in the ‘war on terror’ and the humiliation that my country had to face. I don’t think there has ever been any other country that supported war on terror and had to face criticism from them. If they are not successful in Afghanistan, Pakistan is held responsible for that too.”

Prime Minister Khan expressed anger over the US military’s operation against Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan without informing the Pakistani authorities.

“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden, martyred him.” Khan went on,“but what happened after that. The entire world hurled abuses at us. Our ally [the US] entered our country and killed someone without even telling us. It was a big humiliation.”

According to Reuters, Khwaja Asif, a senior leader of the opposition PML-N, and former foreign minister, criticized Khan in parliament after his remarks. Referring to Osama bin Laden as an “extreme terrorist,” Asif said in his speech in Parliament,”he destroyed my nation, and [Khan] is calling him a martyr.”

Pakistan’s People’s Party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, whose party was in power during the 2011 Abbottabad campaign, has accused Khan of praising violent terrorism. However, a Pakistani government spokesman did not comment to Reuters when asked about Khan’s remarks and criticism of the opposition.

Osama bin Laden, the founder and first leader of the Islamist terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, was killed in Pakistan on May 2, 2011, shortly after 1:00 am PKT by United States Navy SEALs of the U.S. Naval Special Warfare Development Group (also known as DEVGRU or SEAL Team Six).

Osama bin Laden, the main suspect in the 2001 Twin Towers attack in New York, was killed in a US airstrike in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad in 2011. At that time, US helicopters from Pakistan entered Pakistan and carried out operations. However, the Pakistani government did not know about it.

How Imran Khan’s Comments Were Covered in the Media

The remarks of the Prime Minister of Pakistan about Osama bin Laden have been reported by the media of different countries of the world. However, most criticism has been made in the Indian media.

Most news websites, newspapers, and television in India have published news criticizing the remarks of the Prime Minister of Pakistan. However, apart from India, several news outlets in Britain, America, and Australia have also criticized Khan’s remarks.

On the other hand, a tweet by Shahbaz Gill, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communications, was used by the Pakistani newspaper Dawn in their report, arguing for Imran Khan’s remarks.

In his tweet, Gill said that Khan’s remarks were being made unnecessarily controversial, adding that Khan had once called Osama bin Laden a martyr but had twice used the word “murder” in his speech.

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Doris Mkwaya

I am a journalist, with more than 12 years of experience as a reporter, author, editor, and journalism lecturer." I've worked as a reporter, editor and journalism lecturer, and am very enthusiastic about bringing what I've learned to this site.  

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