'Wasn't gloating': Imran says comment on Afghans breaking shackles of slavery was 'distorted'

Published May 30, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in an interview with Sky News on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI Chairman Imran Khan speaks in an interview with Sky News on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday said that his comment about the Afghans breaking the "shackles of slavery" in the wake of the US withdrawal from their country last year was "deliberately distorted" and quoted out of context.

In August, as the Taliban effectively took control of Afghanistan after days of rapid advances in the country, Imran spoke about how cultural imposition was tantamount to 'mental slavery', saying Afghans had "broken the shackles of slavery".

The former prime minister was questioned about those comments today in an interview with Sky News and asked to explain what he meant.

"That was deliberately distorted. I was speaking in Urdu and talking about getting rid of mental slavery," Imran said, adding that he had been referring to the West's cultural imposition through English language education and the introduction of the Single National Curriculum to rectify that.

"First time in our history we had one syllabus for everyone and I said, 'mental slavery is far worse than physical slavery.' I referred to Afghanistan in that context where they were fighting for their physical freedom. It wasn't gloating over [the US withdrawal]."

Questioned on the Taliban's "slavery of women" and rolling back of commitments regarding female education, Imran said he was "not responsible or a spokesman" for the group.

The PTI chairman said the accusation on Pakistan of supporting the Taliban was "propaganda". "There is so much propaganda and ignorance about this whole Pakistan-Afghanistan situation," he said, elaborating on the fallout and damage in Pakistan as a result of participating in the US-led war on terror.

"We were blamed for the lack of success in Afghanistan. What is happening in Afghanistan has nothing to do with us," Imran said.

Questioned about whether he was "pleased" to see the Taliban back in control, Imran repeated his claims about the lack of a military solution to Afghanistan. "This is not a football match where you're on one side or the other," he added.

The PTI chairman was also asked about his trip to Russia and whether he regretted his ties with the country due to what happened in Ukraine. Imran said all the stakeholders had been on "one page" in regards to going ahead the trip, also saying that he had no way of knowing beforehand that Russian President Vladimir Putin would announce an invasion on his day of visit.

"How could we be punished for that?" Imran asked. He said he was against all military solutions to solve problems when asked whether he condemned the Russian invasion or not.

The host pointed out that Imran's pursuit of relations with Russia and China "suggests" that human rights were secondary for him. Imran answered that the "number one" priority for him was the people who had elected him.

"I was not elected to correct all the wrongs that are going on in the world. My responsibility was my country. All my relationships, whether with China, the US or Russia, were for the benefit of our people."

The PTI chairman pointed to India's actions in occupied-Kashmir and the lack of any condemnation against them. "Allow us to be neutral too so we can look after our own people," he added.

Imran was also questioned about his "threat" of a new march if elections were not announced and what he hoped to achieve from it. He responded: "What every democrat hopes to achieve from a peaceful protest. What I hope to achieve is to show the whole of the country that its people want one thing: elections."

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