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PM Imran receives flak over OBL comment in NA


Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday received sharp criticism from the opposition members in the National Assembly for terming former Al-Qaeda head Osama Bin Laden as a "martyr".

Federal Minister for Science and Technology defending the premier's comments over OBL said it was a "clear slip of the tongue".

PML-N stalwart Khwaja Asif, condemning the premier's speech, said OBL was "a terrorist to the very end, who brought terrorism into Pakistan".

"Zia-ul-Haq brought him and you have declared him as a martyr. I don't know how many daddies you have served," the former foreign minister said.

Commenting further on the prime minister's speech, Asif said: "This speech was made at the behest of someone and its tone was also such."

Meanwhile, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, in a Twitter post later in the day, said that the prime minister's move "is consistent with his history of appeasement to violent extremism".

Bilawal said that it is during the incumbent government's tenure that "those involved in APS attack 'escaped' and those involved in Daniel Pearl's murder get relief".

"Running with the hare and hunting with the hounds," he concluded by saying.

The party's spokesperson, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar said that with the remark, the prime minister had become "a security threat".

"He has proved himself to be Taliban Khan (as he is called by his rivals). If Osama Bin Laden is a martyr then what does that make those youth and civilians martyred in Al-Qaeda attacks?"

Khokhar, further censuring the premier, questioned what lesson he wishes to impart for the youth of the nation. "His ties to the Taliban have been visible in rallies as well," he said.

"These are the same people who sought to open [the outfit's] offices in Pakistan."

Former finance minister Ishaq Dar said that the prime minister, in his visit to America last year, had proudly said that OBL was killed with assistance from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and today "bestowed him the status of a martyr".

"Only Mr Niazi knows what he meant and what his motive behind it was," Dar said.

Meanwhile, Minister for Information Shibli Faraz, responding to the critics, said that the premier had spoken "on behalf of a large section of Muslims".

"But these patwaris (slang for corrupt people/supporters of PML-N) have an issue with this too."

The premier's aide on political communication, Shahbaz Gill also defended the premier, saying that he had "twice used the word killed during his speech".

"Some people are stirring up controversy to further their own agenda," the aide said.

"There is no ambiguity in the prime minister's and Pakistan's resolve to root out terrorism. Our track record in the fight against terrorism is exceptional," Gill added.

Voicing his support for the prime minister, JUI-F's Mufti Kifayatullah said that he praises the premier for his "acknowledgment that OBL is a martyr".

"When Pakistani media along with the global media were refraining from calling him a martyr, we announced that he was a martyr in the parliament and on international forums."

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