Army offensive threatens Pakistan itself: Imran Khan | Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
<div id="hn-headline">Army offensive threatens Pakistan itself: Imran Khan</div> <p>WASHINGTON (AFP) ??? Pakistani opposition figure and cricket legend Imran Khan said Thursday an army offensive was threatening the country itself and urged the United States to wind down its involvement in Afghanistan.</p> <p>On a visit to Washington, Khan said the Pakistani military faced a crisis of morale, estimating that 25 percent of the troops involved in the push in the troubled northwest belonged to the same Pashtun ethnicity as local people.</p> <p>"Pakistan is at risk," Khan said at the Middle East Institute, a Washington think-tank. "How long will the government soldiers keep fighting their own people?"</p> <p>Khan, who met US congressional leaders including Senator John Kerry, said that the United States must begin to end its military campaign in neighboring Afghanistan first launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks.</p> <p>"The US must think of an exit strategy in Afghanistan. As long as there is chaos in Afghanistan, or there is fighting going on, there will be no peace in Pakistans tribal area," Khan said.</p> <p>Pakistani troops have waged a more than seven-week battle in northwestern areas after Taliban guerrillas advanced perilously close to the capital Islamabad.</p> <p>Khan regretted that a campaign against thousands of guerrillas in the scenic Swat valley had displaced more than 2.5 million people.</p> <p>"If ever the Taliban were discredited and the public was behind the military operation, it was during the Swat operation. But the anger against the army is much greater," Khan said.</p> <p>"When the true horrors of the collateral damage are known ... the Taliban will have won" through new recruits, Khan said.</p> <p>Khan, a longtime critic of how the United States has executed its "war on terror," said Pakistan should not necessarily target self-described Taliban, whom he characterized as a local political movement.</p> <p>"Terrorism is an idea and to fight it as if youre fighting an army is fundamentally flawed," Khan said. "The real enemy was always Al-Qaeda and the eye has been taken off the ball."</p> <p>Khan is a hero in Pakistan for leading the country to victory in the 1992 cricket World Cup. He has been less lucky in politics, with his Tehrik-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice) a small force.</p>