Pakistan’s cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was briefly taken off a flight to New York Friday and questioned by U.S. immigration officials about his views on drones and Islamic jihad, prompting his party to demand an apology from Washington.
Khan broke the news of interrogation on Twitter by the U.S. officials in Toronto, before being allowed into the country.
"I was taken off from plane and interrogated by U.S. Immigration in Canada on my views on drones. My stance is known. Drone attacks must stop," he wrote, adding that the delay caused him to miss his flight and a fund raising event in New York.
A U.S. State Department official confirmed the news to Reuters. "The issue was resolved and Mr. Khan is welcome in the United States," the official was quoted as saying.
Ali Zaidi, senior vice president of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, has demanded an apology from the U.S. authorities for their two-hour questioning of Khan, Reuters reported.
Earlier this month, Khan had vowed that if he became the country’s elected leader next year, he would order the nation’s air forces to shoot down the drones if the U.S. government refused to cease the controversial program.
“[Drones are] totally counterproductive,” he told BBC. “The [idea] that it is only killing al Qaeda is a myth. The people will tell you that the vast majority of those killed are either innocent civilians or some sort of low-level militants.”
He also accused the current PPP government headed by President Asif Ali Zardari of secretly supporting the U.S. drone strikes.
“This [Zardari] government is completely complicit in it,” he had said.
Khan’s unrelenting opposition to the drone strikes had led to the Pakistani Taliban extending him support during his Oct. 7, address in the strife-torn South Waziristan, a tribal belt bordering Afghanistan.
Khan, who is vying for the presidential chair in the election next year has reached out to the volatile tribal regions — haphazardly controlled by Taliban and al Qaeda — in an attempt to garner wider support for his race.