Imran Khan, the Pakistani politician and former cricket star, considers the Taliban a “terrorist” group and believes that it is “absolute nonsense” to speculate that he supports “extremism”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, the host of UpFront, Khan said: “Yes they are [a terrorist group]. Anyone who kills innocent people are terrorists.”
The interview will be aired in full on Friday at 19:30 GMT.
Khan was also asked about his alleged relationship with the Pakistan Taliban and whether, as some have speculated, he supports the armed group.
“This is absolute nonsense. It’s just not true,” he said. “All you have to do is look at my statements for the past ten years.”
Khan also responded to accusations from Asif Ali Zardari, former president of Pakistan, that his large financial donations to Darul Uloom Haqqania, a school known for educating Taliban fighters, was evidence that he supported “extremism”.
“This is totally out of context,” he said, explaining that the purpose of the funding from his party was “to get the madrassa system into the mainstream”.
Khan said “if it was a university for jihad, it should have been shut down” by previous Pakistani governments.
He said that Zardari’s comments were “like so many of the Muslim corrupt rulers, ex-rulers, trying to win Western support by saying how liberal they are and how anti-Taliban they are”.
Khan also spoke about Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws.