Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan ‘does not fear dying’ after assassination plot claims

Adil Ray sits down with the former PM of Pakistan Imran Khan

Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan said he does not fear dying after claiming he received death threats in the run-up to and after his no-confidence vote.

Mr Khan was ousted as Pakistan’s leader in April after losing the vote which was triggered by accusations of economic mismanagement.

Speaking with ITV's Adil Ray, the former cricket star spoke of his political downfall and what he described as credible assassination threats.

“I entered politics when I had conquered my fear of dying. I don't fear dying, you've got to go one day, Mr Khan said.

“But the fact that this this plot has taken place, I do believe in taking precautions, as much as you can, and so by letting people know that I know about the plot I think that's a form of protection.”

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Mr Khan, who has been in politics for 26 years, claimed he lost his premiership because the US wanted a regime change and there was a US-led conspiracy to remove him.

He said “Pakistan had to be punished and I had to be removed” for meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin on the day Russia invading Ukraine – February 24.

Pakistan was among 35 countries which abstained from a UN General Assembly vote in March to adopt a resolution urging Russia to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine.

But Mr Khan attempted to justify his decision to visit Russia: “The idea was to visit Central Asia countries and open up a relationship with Russia so this was planned quite a way back.

“When I arrived in Russia I arrived at night, the next morning they invaded Ukraine.

“So, we actually took a decision, we thought for our 220 million people it was important that we needed gas from Russia, our reserves are depleting, we need wheat, two million tonnes of wheat from Russia and we also negotiated oil but as straight forward, caring about your own people.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Pakistan's PM Imran Khan shake hands on February 24 - the day Russia invaded Ukraine. Credit: AP

Mr Khan said he hopes to return to power soon, despite losing the no-confidence vote, to “build Pakistan into a humane and just society.”

“We want to have rule of law and a welfare state, meritocracy and above all you know a country which stands on its own feet has independent foreign policy. These are the basic principles I set out 26 years ago, I'm still on that track,” he added.

The former Pakistan PM was also questioned about the UK government’s plan to send migrants to Rwanda from the UK, and that Pakistan and Afghanistan refugees could be subject to this.

“This refugee problem in richer countries is going to grow. The reason being every year there’s a huge transfer of wealth from the developing world to the rich countries. $1.7 trillion dollars moves every year from poor countries to rich countries, illegally, and at the moment there’s no incentive for rich countries to stop this because they gain from this flow of money coming in,” Mr Khan said.

"What will happen is that this difference will keep going and you will have millions of people wanting to move to richer countries."

When asked about the lack of education opportunities for young girls in Afghanistan and women being asked to cover their faces on television, Mr Khan said women are strong, will assert themselves and “find their own rights”.

After the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan last year marking the end of the 20-year war, the Taliban swiftly took over and despite initial promises to allow girls to be educated, the militant group issued a blanket ban of girls aged 13 and above from attending school in March.

“I mean I don't know whether it's ever happened in history, but can anyone bring in human rights from sitting outside and especially liberate other people’s women?” Mr Khan said. “Women are strong I think they would assert themselves, give them time and they will find their own rights…it is fundamental to give education to young people.”

Mr Khan said the “only option left is to work” with the Taliban, adding “is there any other solution after 20 years of war, spending $2 trillion dollars.”