Ques­tion­able ques­tion­ing

The de­ten­tion of Im­ran Khan is meant to ha­rass crit­ics of US drone at­tacks

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - FRONT PAGE -

weapons, crim­i­nals, and con­tra­band,” and added that the burden is on the visi­tor “to demon­strate that they are ad­mis­si­ble” and “the ap­pli­cant must over­come all grounds of in­ad­mis­si­bil­ity.”

There are sev­eral ob­vi­ous points raised by this episode. Strictly on prag­matic grounds, it seems quite ill-ad­vised to sub­ject the most pop­u­lar leader in Pak­istan — the po­ten­tial next prime min­is­ter — to triv­ial, vin­dic­tive hu­mil­i­a­tions of this sort. It is also a breach of the most ba­sic diplo­matic pro­to­col: just imag­ine the out­rage if a US politi­cian were re­moved from a plane by Pak­istani of­fi­cials in or­der to be ques­tioned about their pub­licly ex­pressed po­lit­i­cal views. And ha­rass­ing prom­i­nent crit­ics of US pol­icy is hardly likely to di­lute anti-US an­i­mos­ity; the ex­act op­po­site is far more likely to oc­cur.

But the most im­por­tant point here is that Khan’s de­ten­tion is part of a clear trend by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to ha­rass and in­tim­i­date crit­ics of its drone at­tacks.

Last May, I wrote about the amaz­ing case of Muham­mad Dan­ish Qasim, a Pak­istani stu­dent who pro­duced a short film en­ti­tled The Other Side, which “re­volves around the idea of as­sess­ing so­cial, psy­cho­log­i­cal and eco­nom­i­cal ef­fects of drones on the peo­ple in tribal ar­eas of Pak­istan.” Qasim, cho­sen as the win­ner of the Au­di­ence Award for Best In­ter­na­tional Film at the 2012 Na­tional Film Fes­ti­val For Tal­ented Youth, was barred from mak­ing any ap­pear­ances in the US.

The month prior, Shahzad Ak­bar — a Pak­istani lawyer who rep­re­sents drone vic­tims in law­suits against the US and the co-founder of the Pak­istani hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tion, Foun­da­tion for Fun­da­men­tal Rights, was de­nied a visa. The US is ea­ger to im­pose a price for ef­fec­tively chal­leng­ing its poli­cies and to pre­vent the pub­lic — the do­mes­tic pub­lic, that is — from hear­ing crit­ics with first-hand knowl­edge of the im­pact of those poli­cies. The Guardian

Vic­tim of a ven­detta: Khan

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