The war on terror has been a costly failure and the use of drones is ratcheting up anti-Americanism and militants, says a popular politician vying to be Pakistan's next leader.
In an interview on CBC News Network's Power & Politics, Imran Khan said he's the only leader promoting a peaceful solution to the decade-long conflict — and that his push for talks with the Taliban has wrongly branded him a pro-jihadist.
The founder of the Movement of Justice Party told host Evan Solomon he wants to spread the word to governments around the world — including Canada's — that much blood has been spilled and money thrown "down the drain" in a costly war that will only be resolved through negotiations with the Taliban.
"Trillions of dollars spent. God knows how many hundreds and thousands of people killed. Is the world any safer?" he said.
Khan, visiting Toronto to speak about his country and raise funds for his political party, has said in the past he would shoot down American drones in Pakistan's tribal areas. He told Solomon that if he's elected, he would try to convince Western political leaders they are driving anti-Americanism and helping militants, and if they continued, he would take his case to the United Nations to have it recognized as a breach of sovereignty.
U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney both support the use of drones as a tightly controlled strategy that pre-empts more intrusive military actions.
Khan, once a famous cricket star, entered politics in 1996 and has been slowly building up a base of supporters with his outspoken condemnation of the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.
While he’s been dubbed "Taliban Khan," Khan insists he is not promoting violent tactics, but a peaceful resolution through dialogue with the people in Taliban tribal areas.
"Military strategy by itself has failed, and sadly, people like us who advocate a political settlement are called pro-Taliban," he said. "If you win them over to your side, you win the war. If you push them on to the other side, it's a never-ending war."
Accused of failing to condemn the Taliban shooting of 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, he rejected the claims as "blatant propaganda."
If elected, he said, he would be a friend of the U.S., but not "a stooge."
"A friend should tell the other friend what is good for them. A military solution is a disaster for the U.S., it's a disaster for the people of Pakistan."
Asked by Solomon which U.S. presidential candidate he'd prefer to see in office, Obama or Romney, Khan remained coy.
"I would like that president to win the election who gives peace a chance, who stops this war on terror which is destroying my country, which is causing more anti-Americanism," he said.