Imran Khan: Pakistan PM under fire for calling Osama Bin Laden a 'martyr'

Opposition politician responds by calling former Al-Qaeda leader 'ultimate terrorist'

Rory Sullivan
Friday 26 June 2020 17:11 BST
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) speaks during a National Assembly session in Islamabad on 25 June, 2020.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan (L) speaks during a National Assembly session in Islamabad on 25 June, 2020. (Photo by Handout / PID / AFP)

Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan has been criticised by opposition politicians for saying that the US "martyred" Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaeda, was killed by US special forces in the town of Abbottabad on 2 May, 2011.

Mr Khan made the remark in parliament on Thursday during a budget speech in which he directed blame at the foreign policies adopted by his predecessors, stressing that the US had not treated Pakistan fairly during its war on terror.

The prime minister told parliament: "We sided with the US in the War on Terror but they came here and killed him, martyred him and ... used abusive language against us (and) did not inform us (of the raid), despite the fact that we lost 70,000 people in war on terror."

"The way we supported America in the war on terror, and the insults we had to face in return ... They blamed us for every failure in Afghanistan. They openly held us responsible because they did not succeed in Afghanistan," he added.

In his speech, Mr Khan used the word "shaheed", which is a reverential term to describe someone who has died for their faith.

Khawaja Asif, the leader of the opposition and a former foreign minister, was among those who rebuked the prime minister, calling Bin Laden an "ultimate terrorist".

"He destroyed my nation, and [Khan] is calling him a martyr," Mr Asif said in parliament.

Following the controversial comment by the prime minister, one Pakistani activist wrote on Twitter: "Muslims all over the world are struggling because of the discrimination they face due to recent terrorism & our PM makes it worse by calling obl [Osama Bin Laden] a martyr of Islam!"

Since taking power in August 2018, Mr Khan has claimed that the relationship between Pakistan and the US is now one of mutual respect, adding that he has good rapport with Donald Trump.

"No one insults us now," said Mr Khan.

Additional reporting from AP

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