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Pakastani Politician Detained By US Customs Over Opposition To Drone Strikes 560

First time accepted submitter Serious Callers Only writes "According to reports, Imran Khan was detained yesterday by US officials for questioning on his views on United States drone strikes in Pakistan. Glenn Greenwald writing for the guardian: 'On Saturday, Khan boarded a flight from Canada to New York in order to appear at a fundraising lunch and other events. But before the flight could take off, U.S. immigration officials removed him from the plane and detained him for two hours, causing him to miss the flight. On Twitter, Khan reported that he was "interrogated on [his] views on drones" and then added: "My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop." He then defiantly noted: "Missed flight and sad to miss the Fundraising lunch in NY but nothing will change my stance."'"
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Pakastani Politician Detained By US Customs Over Opposition To Drone Strikes

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  • by frobbie ( 2756533 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @01:48PM (#41797607)

    What the hell were US immigration officials doing in Canada, if I may ask?

    When flying from Canada to the US, US immigration occurs in Canada. This is known as "pre-clearance" and allows the plane to land in the US as if it were a domestic flight - including allowing flights to US airports that do not have immigration facilities.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @01:51PM (#41797631)

    What the hell were US immigration officials doing in Canada, if I may ask?

    The US and Canada have the system set up so that you pass through US Customs in Canada if you are leaving by air. That means that your flight goes to the domestic gates in the US (and can go to small airports without any customs at all). It is actually a very useful system if you are transferring to another flight in the US; as long as you make your flight in Canada, you should have no trouble changing planes in the US.

    By the way, it has an interesting legal corollary - they can't arrest you, not being in the US. They can tell Canadian police to arrest you, but they can't do it themselves. That may not help you if they find pot on you, and it certainly won't help you if they find a bomb on you, but it does mean that someone like Khan is not going to just get carted off to Guantanamo without Canadian involvement. (I suspect that he wasn't technically "detained" either, but that is probably a fine line, and he may well have felt like it was a detention.)

    Note: IANA and this is not legal advice.

  • by thePig ( 964303 ) <rajmohan_h.yahoo@com> on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:09PM (#41797805) Journal

    Another factor here is that Imran Khan is one of the few politicians who stands up against extremism. He was previously the captain of their cricket team (and a very capable player and leader - I must say), and was even then known for his secular, non-conformist views and opinions. Of all the people from Pakistan to detain, he should be the last.

  • Re:Dishonest (Score:2, Informative)

    by Zemran ( 3101 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:13PM (#41797859) Homepage Journal

    That would be a great way to shoot themselves in the foot (as usual). He is well known globally as peace activist who doesn't happen to like the way that America is indiscriminately murdering innocent people in his country. I do not think that the US would like it if Russia decided to start bombing the US on a regular basis and kept saying "ooh, yes, we have reason to believe that mother and baby were terrorists". I realise that the average American swallows the BS when they say that they got a bad guy and they forget to mention that they have no way of knowing who they got and that the the city block they took out killed 20 people, but the rest of the world have got their brains turned on.

  • by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:23PM (#41797937) Homepage Journal

    This is also true of Canadian train stations. At least it is true of Vancouver's train station. You clear in Vancouver, and then just ride past the border.

    Some people were hoping to set up a station closer to the border, but officials didn't want to clear there too.

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:25PM (#41797951) Journal

    ...at least the hijackings have stopped...

    Yes, because, before then, they were so routine [schneier.com]

  • Re:Dishonest (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:30PM (#41797985)

    If Americans really don't want to let this guy in there are diplomatic ways to do so. They should've declared him a persona non grata before the incident. That would've been an honest way of dealing with the situation, most people would've understood that they don't want an Al-Qaeda supporter in their country, and the guy wouldn't have got free popularity back at home out of it.

    I do agree with you that the President and the Secretary of State should set diplomatic policy, not some agent at the counter. However, I don't think they would support this. This person should be our friend. This is not the way to go about achieving that.

    Imran Khan (an ex-professional cricket player) is no more Al Qaeda than is Ron Paul. (He is frequently described as Pakistan's Ron Paul.) He has a fairly classic liberal agenda. (Note that classic liberalism is the basis of our system of government.) He is explicitly against the Taliban.

    Yes, he is also against drone strikes. That is a widespread sentiment in Pakistan. Heck, I believe that some politicians (even, dare I say, Ron Paul) feel the same way here.

    Note also that Al Qaeda is against sports and the Taliban shut down all sports in the territory they controlled, at least up until recently. Knowing that, you might even think that they would threaten to kill a Paikistani politician who played sports and espoused liberal values. You would be correct [indianexpress.com].

    We should probably apologize to the guy, and should certainly welcome him into the country. One does not have to agree with everything a friend says to recognize them as a friend.

  • by sunderland56 ( 621843 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:38PM (#41798047)

    "individual states" and "local government" are still government. Both are, in the end, subject to the US Supreme Court, and in many cases to other branches of the Feds.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:43PM (#41798095) Journal

    "our dual mission is to facilitate travel in the United States while we secure our borders, our people, and our visitors from those that would do us harm like terrorists and terrorist weapons, criminals, and contraband,"

    Nice sound byte accusing him of being a terrorist without actually saying it.

    Every time I see this kind of thing it just confirms that the biggest threat to peace and the ones creating racial intolerance and hatred are the US Government.

    Unfortunately, it also seems like a strikingly incompetent thing to do, even if you adopt the 'the US can do whatever it feels like' school of international relations... The guy is a fairly high profile politician, if ICE wants to know what his views are, all they have to do is crack a newspaper, ask the state department, or both. Not Hard. If there is some suspicion that there is more there than meets the eye, a couple of hours in some dingy airport getting harassed by customs goons certainly isn't going to find it, and is certainly far less subtle and more offensive than more effective ways of gathering intelligence.

    So, provoke an incident with Pakistan, a country with which we can barely pretend to be even frenemies with these days, in exchange for absolutely no gain? Um, good work there, guys...

  • don't forget this (Score:4, Informative)

    by andy1307 ( 656570 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:45PM (#41798107)
    He's also justified the taliban's actions as jihad [guardian.co.uk].

    Afghan politicians have reacted with disbelief, with one parliamentarian suggesting Khan should be arrested. The Ulema Council, a grouping of senior clerics, declared his comments "unislamic". A Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Khan was "either profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan, or he has ill will against the Afghan people. "Our children are killed on daily basis, civilians killed and our schools, hospitals and infrastructure attacked on a daily basis. To call any of that jihad is profoundly wrong and misguided."

    So he's not on their radar just for his opposition to the drones...

  • by andy1307 ( 656570 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:46PM (#41798119)

    Don't you think that's it's kinda sad when a centrist liberal political party,

    Imran Khan's party can't be described as centrist, liberal or secular by ANY stretch of the imagination. He's frequently justified the actions of the taliban as jihad i.e. justified under islamic law.

  • by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @02:53PM (#41798165)

    EDITORS WILL YOU PLEASE FIX THE STORY TITLE. This should be:Imran Khan detained by US customs over opposition to drone strikes as in the original submission, or if you prefer Pakistani politician..., but not Pakastani...

  • Re:Thugs. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:10PM (#41798287)

    This is my policy since PATRIOT act. Even more so since NDAA...

    Yep, both of which Obama signed. So much for hope and change.

    And only an idiot would think Romney would do anything differently.

    And people here keep telling me there's some kind of difference between the two.

  • Re:don't forget this (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:14PM (#41798325)

    Maybe not, but it is a struggle against foreign occupation, which is what he said. Read the whole article.

    Also, his political party has a web site [insaf.pk], where you will find this [insaf.pk]

    Secondly, on the question of Taliban: again, a section of the media has distorted Imran Khan’s message. A letter does not provide the space to elaborate in totality his point of view but simply put, he does not subscribe to the militant ideology of any of the radical organisations. His point of view is that, instead of carrying out a virtual genocide in the tribal areas through a military campaign, a peace process be initiated in which the local tribes take the responsibility of maintaining peace and isolating those, who when isolated would be nothing more than criminals. Once they have been marginalised they can be dealt with.

    People like Mr Ijaz are a rare variety of liberals found only in Pakistan who actually want military operations, bombings, strafing and killings on a large-scale. Imran does not believe this solves anything. Indeed, he feels it adds to militancy because of the inevitable collateral damage. He is a national leader who believes in bringing all the people together, whatever their ethnicity or ideology. This is the core reason why people like the writer himself are so anguished by his rise.

    Look, I don't agree with everything I see there, or have heard about Mr. Khan, but he sure seems like someone we should be talking to, not shutting out.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:26PM (#41798391)

    Nonsense. Imran Khan has taken many extreme positions.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/14/imran-khan-taliban-afghanistan-islam [guardian.co.uk]

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:29PM (#41798411)

    http://www.economist.com/node/21564596 [economist.com]

    ON OCTOBER 9th Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a grouping of Islamist militants also known as the Pakistani Taliban, shot a 14-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, in the head. Claiming responsibility for the attack, the Pakistani Taliban said that it had targeted her because she promoted a Westernised and secular vision.

    As it happened, the shooting came on the heels of a two-day “peace march” against American drone aircraft targeting suspected Islamist militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas close to the border with Afghanistan. At the head of a cavalcade that moved slowly from the capital, Islamabad, to the edge of the tribal areas was Imran Khan, star cricketer turned politician. Mr Khan demanded the end of missile strikes by American drones and an end to Pakistan’s own military operations against its home-grown Taliban. Instead, Mr Khan advocates unconditional peace talks with the militants.

    Mr Khan is firmly against violent extremism, and the attack on Malala sickened him as much as anyone. He called her “a courageous daughter of Pakistan”. But, asked on television to condemn the Pakistani Taliban, he answered: “Who will save my party workers if I sit here and give big statements against the Taliban?”

    Mr Khan’s position is that Taliban violence is a reaction to American drones and to the American presence in Afghanistan. That hardly explains why the Pakistani Taliban targeted a schoolgirl, and warned that they would go after her again if she survived. Nor does anything suggest that the Pakistani Taliban are interested in dialogue with Imran Khan or the current government. Indeed, their clearly stated agenda is to take over Pakistan and impose a medievalist Islam on the country, sharing an ideology with al-Qaeda that sees most fellow Muslims as apostates, justifying their killing.

    Mr Khan has made drones and peace talks a central plank of his politics. He insists that drones largely kill innocent civilians. Given that the drone strikes take place in tribal badlands that are a no-go area for outsiders, it is impossible to know the true level of civilian casualties. According to a tally by the New America Foundation, a Washington think-tank, based on press reports from Pakistan, the drones have killed nearly 3,200 people since 2004, with a non-militant casualty rate of some 15%. American military men claim the rate is much lower. Militants killed by drones include the former Pakistani Taliban leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and the “butcher of Swat”, Ibn Amin. Nearly all of al-Qaeda’s top commanders have also been killed. By comparison with innocent casualties from drones, the Pakistani Taliban and their allies have killed 14,427 civilians and 4,670 soldiers and police in Pakistan since 2003, according to figures kept by the South Asia Terrorism Portal.

    Since late last year Mr Khan has enjoyed a surge in his popularity as a politician, propelling him to the lead position in a poll six months ago by the International Republican Institute, an American pollster. Mr Khan’s promise of change and of a new politics, much needed, that is free from corruption went down well. But now the same institute puts his party, Tehreek-e-Insaf, in second place, with 24% support, four points behind Mr Sharif’s outfit.

    This year the surge in support for Mr Khan led well-known politicians from mainstream parties to join him. Now people are starting to question whether change can come through these establishment recruits. With an election due at some point in the next few months, Mr Khan’s predictions of a landslide victory are starting to look less convincing.

  • by number11 ( 129686 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:33PM (#41798443)

    Right, because white supremacists are plowing planes into buildings, bombing market squares filled with their own people, stoning and beheading others with government backing and attacking embassies at the drop of a hat.

    Austin airplane attack on IRS. Kansas City bombing. Abortion doctor assassinations. Anthrax. Olympics bomb. Ted Kaczynski. Chinese embassy in Iraq. Though no stonings or beheadings with government backing that I'm aware of. So if those are logical ANDs (requires that all be simultaneously true) I guess it might be accurate.

  • by dcollins ( 135727 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:38PM (#41798489) Homepage

    The tragedy of America is that its system was designed prior to mathematical understanding of voting principles, and it is inherently unable to deal with party-politics (or "factions" as Washington begged us to avoid in his farewell address). Duverger's Law observes that such a system will certainly become controlled by just two parties. If those two parties are essentially bought out by corporations, and present candidates with effectively identical beliefs on the most important issues, then there is no way for the citizens to alter the direction of the government.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law [wikipedia.org]

  • by Serious Callers Only ( 1022605 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @03:44PM (#41798519)

    I think his words were twisted there - he said - "It is very clear that whoever is fighting for their freedom is fighting a jihad ". That does not mean he endorses the Taliban's world view, far from it, just that he understands the motivation for fighting a foreign invader, and is playing to a complex home crowd. In fact he's been threatened with assassination by the Taliban in the past, has been strongly critical of them and went to visit the girl recently shot by them (he wouldn't go near that if he wanted to support them, they explicitly told him he was not welcome, but he went anyway). Just because he's not willing to condemn everyone fighting the Americans in Afghanistan does not make him a war monger. Here is the full quote, minus the editorialising from the guardian (who want page views after all):

    “In the guise of the Taliban, there are several criminal gangs who didn’t even spare PTI workers by demanding extortion money.” The PTI chief said that “drone attacks are carried out with the consent of the government, and in reaction, Taliban attack civilians.” Citing an ex-employee of the US Central Intelligence Agency, he said that unless the Pakistani government withdraws its support as a coalition partner on the ‘war on terror’ it will be unable to overcome the insurgency in the country. “A military operation can be a small part of a larger solution but a conflict cannot be resolved through military operations alone,”.

    If you discredit the moderate voices like Khan's you're left with the extremists like the Taliban, or Musharraf - really the west should be trying to work with moderates like him, not intimidate him into silence or funding dictators like Musharraf and the ISI who have channelled funds to these terrorists everyone is so keen to profess hatred for. It's no coincidence that Bin Laden was hiding in plain site in Pakistan, and more terrorism targeting US troops will be funded by Pakistan (and thus indirectly the US) until the US look for a political solution rather than performing drone assassinations, indiscriminately showering the Pakistani military and security services with money and hoping it will all just go away.

  • by rgbrenner ( 317308 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:01PM (#41798639)

    You're twisting things. Yes, he visited the girl who the taliban shot in the head for promoting girls education. Then he walked outside of that same hospital (where she is unconscious in intensive care, btw) and gave that "the taliban are fighting for freedom" speech.

  • by zig007 ( 1097227 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:15PM (#41798719)

    In which country do you have more free speech rights than the US? ALL customs operations all over the world work exactly the same: you have no rights at the border.

    Huh?? WTF?! As a non-US citizen I take offence to that!

    1. What free-speech rights would that would be that are lacking in basically all western countries? I am Swedish, and I can write/say whatever the fuck I want as long it is not libel/slander. And yeah, we can say *fuck* on TV too without being bleeped too. You have ridiculous levels of censorship and then you walk around saying stuff like this. I am not saying we are perfect. But we are certainly not worse than the US.
    Free speech is also not some US invention(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_speech) as it sometimes sounds as it is:
    "England’s Bill of Rights 1689 granted 'freedom of speech in Parliament' and the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, adopted during the French Revolution in 1789, specifically affirmed freedom of speech as an inalienable right." Yeah, eat that. The french!
    And BTW, democracy is a greek invention from about 500 BC or whatever. And yeah, we've got that too. Only difference is we don't allow corporations a huge influence on inventions. For example, if IKEA would have been able to form superpacs we would all be dead.

    2. No. Not ALL customs operations work like that. Would our customs treat a foreign public figure like that there would be a national outcry, and the opinion would be that behaviour like this would be beneath us. One thing is to ask about terrorist activities if they are actually suspected, but to ask about views on the countries' policies is low stuff. And also quite pointless. What is being described is stuff you'll normally only have to tolerate when entering obscure military dictatorships. And I would expect this to be uncommon even there.
    To be able to detain and to actually detain is not the same thing.

  • by psmears ( 629712 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:21PM (#41798759)

    If you're referring to Islamic Fundamentalists

    Some would argue that "Islamic Fundamentalists" is just a fancy term for normal, mainstream Muslims who aren't of the ultraliberal (from the POV of Middle Eastern folks) branch of Islam (and who are often called "apostates", not "liberals", in the same area).

    Some people might argue that. But would that be based on evidence and fact, or ill-informed speculation and prejudice? My own experience (and I have lived in a Muslim country) is that most Muslims are horrified at the views and actions of the fundamentalists - like folks anywhere, most people just want to get on with their own lives without interfering in, or being interfered with by, other people - especially other people in another country far away.

  • Leave him alone. (Score:5, Informative)

    by oob ( 131174 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:40PM (#41798897)

    American insularity is an issue here.

    As some of the above posters have noted, Imran Khan was a cricketer. A very good one.

    Good enough to be a household name around the cricket-playing world. Australia, the U.K., South Africa, New Zealand, the West Indies, most of the sub-continent. Around two billion people I'd guess.

    While to the American public he's just another 'sand nigger' or 'towel head' or whatever other pejorative is in vogue, to much of the rest of the English-speaking world he is a well-known and widely-respected personality.

    We know this guy. He's more one of us than you lot are.

  • by awilden ( 110846 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @04:47PM (#41798947)
    Imran Khan is a superstar politician that has no cultural equivalent in the United States. He's also somebody who has strong ties to the West, including going to Oxford University, having married a Brit and having been Chancellor of a British university. So this is not a dodgy politician who is rising to power in the hopes of enforcing Sharia law on the world. This guy is exactly the kind of person who could be and should be a strong ally for the West in Pakistan. On the other hand, if you wanted to find a way to alienate Pakistani moderates and those with ties to the West, this would be somebody to try and humiliate.
  • It's not cricket! (Score:5, Informative)

    by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @06:31PM (#41799579) Journal
    Yes, it will make the US look bad because this wouldn't have happened to Imran in the UK, Australia, or New Zealand. The guy is a legendary cricket player, there are few people in these nations who have not heard of him, most of us already know about his charitable work and his peaceful political ambitions. He wants his people to stop dying, shooting a young girl in the face because here farther advocates education for girls, or bombing her from above because her father wants to shoot school girls, sure the motives are different but it's the same outcome from where he stands.

    For our US friends, the term "it's not cricket" means it's unfair.

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