The United States “martyred” Al Qaeda terror chief Usama bin Laden when Navy SEALs killed him nine years ago, Pakistan’s prime minister told parliament.
Imran Khan’s comments Thursday came during a rambling budget speech, attacking his predecessors’ foreign policies and saying that Pakistan’s partnership with the United States in the war on terror was a mistake.
“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Usama Bin Laden, martyred him,” Khan said, according to the BBC.
Khan used the word “shaheed” — a reverential Arabic term for a martyr of Islam, the BBC reported.
Bin Laden, the masterminded of the 9/11 terror attacks, was hiding out in Pakistan when Navy SEALs killed him in a nighttime raid in the military garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
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The BBC reported that opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif criticized Khan, calling Bin Laden an “ultimate terrorist.”
“He destroyed my nation, and [Khan] is calling him a martyr,” Asif said in parliament.
The BBC reported that high-profile Pakistani activist Meena Gabeena tweeted, “Muslims all over the world are struggling because of the discrimination they face due to recent terrorism and our PM makes it worse by calling [Bin Laden] a martyr of Islam!”
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Khan’s spoke as Pakistan’s foreign office rejected a U.S. State Department report accusing Pakistan of harboring regionally-focused terrorist groups, the BBC reported.
Critics have branded the prime minister “Taliban Khan.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.