Imran Khan

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has condemned the attack on Salman Rushdie, describing it as “terrible” and “sad”, and saying that while the anger of the Islamic world at the author’s book “The Satanic Verses” was understandable, it could not justify the assault.

In an interview to the Guardian, Khan also said he expected Afghan women to “assert their rights” in the face of Taliban restrictions in which he sought to moderate his reputation as a firebrand. He is fighting for his political survival after being ousted from office in April.

Khan says his staff and followers are being persecuted and intimidated and he is battling eight-year-old charges of illicit campaign financing that could lead to him being banned from politics. Ten years ago, Khan pulled out of an event in India because Rushdie would also be appearing and the two men exchanged insults, but he does not appear to have expressed support for violent action against the Indian-born author.

His denunciation of the attack is striking, however, in a region where most politicians have ducked comment, The Guardian reported. Asked for his response to the knife attack in New York state that left Rushdie badly wounded, Khan said: “I think it’s terrible, sad. “Rushdie understood, because he came from a Muslim family. He knows the love, respect, reverence of a Prophet that lives in our hearts. He knew that.

“So the anger I understood, but you can’t justify what happened.”

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