Tory mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith endorsed Pakistani politician Imran Khan, who has said that the ongoing war in Afghanistan for “freedom” against “foreign occupation” was a religiously justified “jihad”.
The insurgents were fighting British and American troops when the comments were made in 2012.
The revelations are likely to lead to further accusations of hypocrisy against Goldsmith and the Tory campaign, which has accused rival Sadiq Khan of “giving cover to extremists”.
In an interview in 2015, Zac Goldsmith endorsed Khan as the Prime Minister of Pakistan:
In an exclusive interview with Geo News here, Zac Goldsmith said that in his opinion Pakistan needs “honest and strong leader like Imran Khan” to deal with its problems and there is no one better than the former cricket star who now heads the main opposition party in Pakistan.
More recently, Goldsmith thanked Imran Khan for his endorsement for Mayor of London.
But in 2012, Imran Khan told Pakistani reporters that the insurgent war for “freedom” in Afghanistan was a religiously justified “jihad”. Yes, the same insurgents that earlier gave shelter to Osama Bin Laden and were fighting British and American troops at the time.
Over 450 British forces personnel or MoD staff have been killed while serving in Afghanistan since operations began in October 2001.
Khan told an audience of reporters in 2012:
Jihad is a very simple thing. When I fight for my freedom that is ‘jihad’. This is what is written in the Qu’ran. Whoever fights for their freedom, that is jihad. The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation, they are fighting a jihad.
The story barely made a splash in western media at the time. Here’s a video of Khan’s remarks (in Urdu).
The Guardian reported at the time that:
Afghan politicians have reacted with disbelief, with one parliamentarian suggesting Khan should be arrested. The Ulema Council, a grouping of senior clerics, declared his comments “unislamic”. A Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Khan was “either profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan, or he has ill will against the Afghan people.”
Khan made the comments in a hospital in Peshawar where just a week ago Malala Yousafzai had been shot.
The Pakistani Express Tribune reported: ‘War in Afghanistan is jihad, says Imran‘
In another audio recording sent to Political Scrapbook, Imran Khan claimed in an interview that conflict against the Taliban was “government propaganda”:
Firstly this is government propaganda, who tell the people constantly that this is our war, that this isn’t America’s war, that we are fighting this war – this is the biggest lie.
Was Zac Goldsmith aware of Imran Khan’s views when he endorsed him?
We asked Goldsmith’s campaign for a comment on whether they knew of Imran Khan’s views on the Taliban, but they declined to comment.
Isn’t it time Goldsmith came clean about his own link to extremists who justify attacks on British troops?