Tough guy ‘Taliban Khan’

The question was simple: If Imran Khan was elected as the country’s prime minister, what would be the fate of religious minorities in Pakistan, such as Hindus and Ahmadis?
Twenty-seven-year old journalism student Kazim Rizvi and his camera-carrying colleague had managed to conduct a coveted interview (after waiting 18 hours) with Khan as his car drove to the airport, where the Pakistani politician was to board a flight to the U.S.
Rizvi says Khan got visibly irritated at his question.
“He tried giving a half-sentence platitude to equality, but I persisted and popped a question no Pakistani reporter dares ask: ‘What about gays’?”
This infuriated Khan, Rizvi said.
“Ok now, end of the interview, finish, I don’t want to talk to you,” he is heard on the tape telling the two students.
Rizvi says after the camera was turned off, he got a tongue-lashing and Khan’s handlers aggressively threw the camera at his colleague.
He added: “Khan was furious… he told me to scrap this ‘stupid interview’ … these are western issues,’ what have they got to do with Pakistan?”
At the airport, Khan’s handlers asked the students to “hand over the tape,” Rizvi said, but the two were able to get lost in the crowd of a last-minute photo op with Khan.
“I was just doing my job and didn’t deserve to be bullied and insulted,” says Rizvi.
But soon after, Khan received a tongue lashing of his own.
As Khan strutted towards the departure gates and approached U.S. Immigration, an officer asked him the customary questions about the purpose of his trip to the United States.
His answers were noted and he was given back his passport and told to proceed.
In the meantime, behind a one-way mirror overlooking the immigration booths, U.S. Homeland Security officials were tracking Khan’s movement, as they already knew he was going to enter the U.S. after his visit to Canada.
Instead of creating a scene at passport control, they allowed Khan and his entourage to board the aircraft and only when all the passengers were seated, did they go in and haul him back.
This time it wasn’t a young Pakistani student journalist asking the questions; it was no-nonsense officials of a U.S. and Canada task force, including representatives from Homeland Security.
An official who observed the interrogation process told me Khan sat timidly with his head lowered and hands clasped while he received a “dressing down” about potentially violating the limitations of his visitor’s visa to the U.S.
He said there was no talk about Khan’s opposition to U.S. attack drones, as the politician later claimed after the fact.
My source, tells me the real concern was that Khan had told passport control he was coming to the U.S. to visit family and friends, without specifying his planned fundraising and political activities.
(Deputy U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Hoagland, later tweeted about the incident, as cited by Pakistan’s International News , saying Khan’s detention had: “Nothing to do with drones — he brought it up.”)
Stuck in detention, Khan requested help from the Pakistani government to intervene and calls were made to the U.S. State Department.
Khan was then asked to give assurances that he would not use his visa for political purposes, to which he promptly agreed and was allowed to go on his way.
Apparently, he’s not as tough with Homeland Security officials as he is with young journalists.

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