Imran Khan, the legendary Pakistani test cricketer and now leading opposition politician, has shrugged off an alleged death threat from Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban.
According to reports, Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for TTP, threatened to murder Khan in the event he participated in a march planned for next month in South Waziristan to protest missile drone strikes by the U.S. military.
"If he comes, our suicide bombers will target him," Ahsan told The Associated Press.
"We will kill him."
Although Khan is a practicing Muslim, Ahsan warned: "We will not accept help or sympathy from any infidel. We can fight on our own with the help of God.”
Waziristan, along the lawless border with Afghanistan, is a tribal area that is home to uncounted Islamic militant fighters.
In response to the apparent threats, Khan wrote on Twitter: “A man of faith doesn't fear death & a march for peace against drones that have destroyed millions of lives of [Federally- Administered Tribal Areas] FATA [people] is worth dying for.”
He added: "Everyone needs to know that our Peace March is against the drones killing the [people] of FATA & against a debilitating war imposed on Pakistan."
While the Pakistan Taliban also obviously want the U.S. drones to stop targeting militants in the area, its anger at Khan appears to be due to the former cricketer’s lack of religious conviction and left-wing, secular ideas.
Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party, is a self-described “liberal” who is diametrically opposed to the views and policies of the country’s religious extremists and also the powerful military-intelligence networks.
However, in his public posture, Khan has not explicitly criticized the Pakistan Taliban, raising doubts about the validity of the death threats.
Indeed, some of Khan’s critics label him “Taliban Khan’ because they believe he wants their support in his bid to become Prime Minister in next year’s; election (although TTP have declared they would not participate in any elections).