Twitter bemused at Imran Khan for calling Haqqani Network a ‘tribe’

Premier’s comments to international media in a discussion on rise of Afghan Taliban surprise many

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments about the Haqqani Network being a ‘tribe of Pashtuns’ in his interview to CNN have left many bewildered.

The premier was interviewed by CNN’s Becky Anderson, who asked Khan about his opinion on the Haqqani Network, a group she said was responsible for numerous attacks against western forces. Anderson particularly stressed that the network occupied key positions in the interim cabinet in Afghanistan. Khan responded that the US failed to understand the Haqqani network, which was a tribe in Afghanistan.

Twitter was bemused at the statement as many factually corrected Khan’s version of history. Journalist Ihsanullah Tipi Mehsud said that the Haqqani Network was formed by Jalaluddin Haqqani who hailed from the ‘Sultankhail sub-tribe of Zadran’ in Paktia province of Afghanistan.

Hudson Institute South and Central Asia Director Hussain Haqqani jabbed at the PM and said that if Haqqani Network was a tribe, then Khan belonged to the ‘Aitchison and Oxford tribes’. He added that Jalaluddin and his sons got the name ‘Haqqani’ by virtue of their attendance of Dar-ul-Haqqania in Akora Khattak, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The namesake also took the opportunity to comment his own ancestry and said that he hailed from the Haqqani family in Delhi.

Journalist Hamid Mir echoed the same history lesson as others and added that Jalaluddin played a seminal role in defeating Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

Some members made general remarks on Khan’s assertion. National Democratic Movement (NDM) member Khushal Khan was perturbed at Khan’s defense of the Taliban and said he didn’t have to falsify information to support the group.

Sociologist Nida Kirmani was scared that Khan could make fallacious comments so brazenly. Kirmani added that Khan’s conviction almost made her believe the Haqqani Network was a tribe.

With everyone critiquing Khan, his opposition also jumped the bandwagon. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Information Secretary Asma Zahid Bokhari lambasted Khan for speaking about things he had no knowledge of. She added it was strange Khan boasted he knew everything even though for him Germany and Japan shared a border.

Bokhari had referred to another incident of Khan’s mistaken knowledge in 2019 in which Khan said that Germany and Japan shared a border.

Wednesday’s CNN interview was the first time the PM spoke to an international media outlet since Afghan Taliban came to power on August 15. Khan also said that the Taliban needed time to deliver on their promise to safeguard human rights and meanwhile needed international aid to deter mayhem.