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Imran Khan, Leader of the Justice Party
Imran Khan, Leader of the Justice Party

BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: IMRAN KHAN LEADER, JUSTICE PARTY

OCTOBER 21ST, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST:
Pakistan of course remains a country under great strain, many of its people and even important parts of its army are deeply upset about the US led attack on Afghanistan. Six weeks ago just after the twin towers were destroyed we spoke to Imran Khan who said then that his country would have to, would have preferred to stay neutral in all of this and we're going to talk to him again now. Imran, good morning.

IMRAN KHAN:
Good morning David.

DAVID FROST:
Quoting from what you said when you were with us before, you said "It's a no-win situation for Pakistan, either way it loses". Has Pakistan done slightly better than that so far?

IMRAN KHAN:
Well so far David it's not been that bad, but General Musharraf has told Colin Powell that the shorter the duration of the conflict in Afghanistan the better it would be for the country. So if the, the best scenario would be that this conflict ends very quickly and whatever repercussions take place in Pakistan could be controlled. But there, you know it might not go, the worse case scenario is too awful to describe.

DAVID FROST:
What is it, I mean I know you just said it's too awful to describe but can you then describe it?

IMRAN KHAN:
Well I mean firstly there's this problem about all the aid agencies are worried that there's going to be a huge human catastrophe, they can't get food across there, in about two or three weeks the snow's going to fall, the passes will be blocked. They reckon between half a million to a million people will be affected, they'll starve. Then there's the longer it drags out, on, the greater the strain in Pakistani society because in the beginning there were just the extremists, now the lawyers have come out in support of the extremists in the sense that they, they want to stop the bombings in Afghanistan and military action and, and you know the worst thing is that if Osama gets killed and they have not, people in this country have not believed that evidence implicates him in it, the evidence so far produced, a recent poll showed that 86 per cent of the population believe that he was a hero and that's why some of us kept saying listen before you start the military action get on the moral high ground and produce the evidence so that people here are convinced. Not people in the Western countries, they're already convinced, but people in this part of the world needed to be convinced that this hero who had been a hero against the Soviets was sadly now a terrorist, they needed to show that evidence. Now the worry is that if he gets killed with, with, with no, well with not proper evidence produced or concrete evidence then I'm afraid there'll be great repercussions in the society here and the government could get destabilised to what extent we don't know.

DAVID FROST:
But at the moment the President, his position is not rocky at the moment, but it's relatively stable is it?

IMRAN KHAN:
That's right the people have turned against the United States, that all sympathies have shifted for the people of Afghanistan but there's still feeling that General Musharraf really had no choice and in the circumstances it's the best he could do so therefore the majority is still supporting him but the worry is for how long.

DAVID FROST:
What if indeed the current Taliban regime does fall, would you say there should be Taliban participation in the next Afghanistan government, would Pakistan like that or not?

IMRAN KHAN:
Well you know David before the military action started and before the bombing started there was a great feeling in Pakistan that the Taliban regime was collapsing from within, there were a few commanders fiercely anti-Taliban, Afghan commanders in Pakistan who literally pleaded that listen don't bomb Afghanistan because that's going to strengthen the Taliban. And now the feeling is that with the, with fighting going on how is there going to be a regime there which will be a coalition of all the factions when we don't know how long this guerrilla warfare is going to continue, we don't know how the Taliban will be overwhelmed, we don't know what role the Northern Alliance are going to play in this whole thing and how is this Loya Jirgan going to meet which is basically instead of consensus type Parliament which will decide what to do. There are a lot of ifs, we don't know how it's going to happen, there was more chance if the attack had not taken place, the feeling was that they would have collapsed and it was, it would have been much easier to set up a consensus government.

DAVID FROST:
Well thank you very much indeed for joining us, we'll come back and check the situation with you again in a few weeks time.

IMRAN KHAN:
Thank you David.

DAVID FROST:
Imran Khan.

END

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