Pakistani politician Imran Khan, Chancellor of Bradford University, was taken off a flight from Canada to New York by U.S. immigration officials in Toronto and questioned for two hours before being allowed to board a flight to New York.
Ali Zaidi, senior vice president of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, demanded an apology from U.S. authorities, saying the investigation violated ethical and diplomatic norms.
A State Department official confirmed Khan had been detained, but that there was no objection to him entering the country. ‘The issue was resolved and Mr. Khan is welcome in the United States,’ the unnamed official told Reuters.
The State Department would not comment on why Khan was detained and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency said it was not allowed to discuss specific cases.
Imran Khan has been a vocal critic of U.S. drone strikes and recently led a protest march to northern Pakistan to protest about U.S. drone strikes which have killed an estimated 2,600 to 3,400 Pakistanis.
In April, Voice of America reported that Pakistanis opposed to U.S. drone strikes blocked a road used by the NATO alliance to deliver supplies to neighbouring Afghanistan. Imran Khan and several thousand supporters staged a two-day sit-in on the NATO supply route near the northwestern city of Peshawar.
In May, party workers blocked the port at the Jinnah Bridge in Karachi to protest against US drone strikes in the country’s tribal lands. The port brings in supplies for the NATO forces fighting against Taliban militants in Afghanistan. Agence France Presse reported that ‘cricket-hero-turned politician Khan’ said: “We’ll sit outside the port’s gate from Saturday afternoon to Sunday evening continuously to block the trucks carrying NATO supplies”.