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Imran Khan pandering to extremist agendas instead of weaning them away: Article

Karachi, Thu, 12 Apr 2012 ANI

Karachi, Apr 12(ANI): Imran Khan- led Pakistan Tehrik- e Insaaf (PTI) is seemingly pandering to the hateful extremist agendas instead of weaning them away, an article in a Pakistan daily has said.

Writing in the Express Tribune, a fellow with the Centre for the Study of Global Power and Politics at Trent University, Canada, Shibil Siddiqi pointed out that PTI Vice President Ijaz Chaudhry had shared the stage with the Jamaat- ud Dawa(JuD) backed Difa-e-Pakistan Council(DPC) in a December 2011 rally, a move which the PTI justified by saying it was "engaging" fringe elements to integrate them into mainstream politics.

The article said that PTI leaders had also attended a rally that had condemned the former Al Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden's killing and declared him as a "Martyr of Islam."

"PTI leaders also attended rallies with JuD and other extremist organisations on January 30, 2011 and October 29, in favour of Pakistan's controversial blasphemy laws, and to express admiration for Salman Taseer's assassin. Khan's message, delivered by Ijaz Chaudhry, was one of endorsement. He called Pakistan's blasphemy laws "divine," foreclosing any reform," it added.

It also said PTI president Javed Hashmi had recently named the UN-declared terrorist Hafiz Saeed to be a "preacher of peace" on the same day the former had called for a "holy war".

The article claimed that these extremist organizations gain legitimacy with mainstream voters and PTI supporters when they get a mainstream platform to disseminate their views.

"Can one reasonably expect the nature of PTI's "engagement" with the far-right to be substantially different when Imran Khan does not believe jihadist radicalisation to be a concern?" the article questioned.

It slammed Khan's comment that "there is not a threat to Pakistan from Taliban ideology," pointing out that Taliban has been behind the persecution and slaughter of Pakistan's beleaguered minorities, including Shias, Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians.

"Politics is about nurturing electoral constituencies and ensuring survival. If far-right politics and appeasing extremists successfully paves the way to power, then after years in the political wilderness Khan will have found his electoral niche. Those making excuses for this political opportunism are engaging only delusion," the article concluded. (ANI)

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