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HomeNationalImran Khan Labels Pashtuns Xenophobic, Faces Twitter’s Ire

Imran Khan Labels Pashtuns Xenophobic, Faces Twitter’s Ire

There is a brewing storm of outrage and condemnation on social media after a video surfaced this afternoon of Prime Minister Imran Khan labelling the ethnic Pashtuns as a xenophobic group.

While speaking at a press conference of international journalists about the demographic composition of Afghanistan, PM Khan spoke of the relevance of the possible rise of the Taliban to unrest in Pakistan. In the video, Khan opined that if there was a greater percentage of a certain group like the Pashtuns in Afghanistan who tried to assert themselves on other minority groups, then unrest was inevitable. Khan added that instability in Afghanistan trickled into Pakistan especially since the country has a higher population of Pashtuns than Afghanistan itself.

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The comments were not taken positively on social media, with Pashtun lawmaker Mohsin Dawar expressing shock and disbelief at PM Khan’s characterization of an entire ethnic group as ‘xenophobic’. Dawar further questioned how the PM could say something like this considering he had Pashtuns in his circle. In his tirade against the PM’s words, he also predicted that the Pashtuns around him would justify his remarks instead of holding him accountable

Khan’s statement also drew the ire of politicians from across the border. Afghanistan Member of Parliament (MP) Mariam Solaimankhil stated, “We are one United Afghanistan! Hazara, Pashtun, Tajik, Uzbek, Turkmen and the many other ethnic groups are one family!!”

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Pashtuns have a complex relationship with Pakistan. For many years, the Pashtuns have faced the worst in a war-torn Afghanistan. They have also been demonized in Pakistan as the faces of allegedly anti-nationalist movements like the 2014 Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which strives for the development of social and human rights for the ethnic group.

PTM’s Central Committee Member Zubair Shah Agha, in lamenting Khan’s statements, offered a correction in defense of his people. He said, “The Pashtuns are not xenophobic, and they do not fight amongst themselves, he says. They are peace and knowledge loving people.”

Many users had little to say but simply condemn Khan’s statement. One user questioned, “Seriously, what is wrong with him?”

Another resorted to sarcasm, stating that “the gems keep coming from Pakistan PM Imran Khan”.

 

The PM’s comments come at a time when tensions are high between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A few months ago, Afghan high-ups like President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban, who have been wreaking havoc in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Pashtuns in Pakistan are voicing support for Afghanistan, while speaking up against Khan for allegedly fuelling tensions in the neighbouring country.

 

 

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