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Sunday, November 26, 2023

Trump’s Controversial Claims on Imran Khan and Soleimani

Mr Trump made this claim this week while addressing a campaign rally in Houston, Texas, a city with a large Pakistani diaspora population. Many PTI supporters in Houston are leaning towards Mr Trump because they perceive the Biden administration as being hostile towards Mr Khan.

Former US president Donald Trump claims that former prime minister Imran Khan was elated at the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

Mr Trump made this claim this week while addressing a campaign rally in Houston, Texas, a city with a large Pakistani diaspora population. Many PTI supporters in Houston are leaning towards Mr Trump because they perceive the Biden administration as being hostile towards Mr Khan.

Read more: Judge tells Trump’s lawyers to ‘control him’

Mr Soleimani was a significant figure in Iran, leading the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force and was instrumental in Iran’s influence across the Middle East.

He was assassinated on Jan 3, 2020, by a US drone strike near Baghdad International Airport, days before Mr Trump emptied the White House for the 46th president, Joe Biden. Mr Trump is seeking reelection in 2024.

Describing how he discussed Mr. Soleimani’s assassination with Mr Khan, Mr Trump recalled: “They had a Pakistan Khan, he was a great cricket player, he became the head of Pakistan. He said it was the biggest moment of my (Imran’s) life.”

He claimed that the then prime minister also told him: “When I heard that Soleimani was killed, I left my office. I walked to my home. I stayed in my home in solitude for one week. It was the biggest event that ever happened to me.”

Mr Trump then started telling his mostly White American audience who Mr Khan was: “He was the biggest cricket player. That’s like being a great NFL player or a great baseball player (in America). He was said to be just about the best, handsome guy. He became the boss, Pakistan.”

Read more: Judge tells Trump’s lawyers to ‘control him’

Further elaborating on his conversation with Imran, Mr Trump claimed that the former Pakistani prime minister told him, “I left, and I contemplated for one week. It was the biggest event of my life. I have never had anything like that happen.” And “many people felt like that”, Mr Trump added.

He, however, did not elaborate when and where he had this conversation with Imran Khan. The PTI leader, who is now in prison, visited Washington from July 21 to 23, 2019.

In September 2019, he visited New York to address the UN General Assembly and met Mr Trump on Sept 23. Mr Soleimani was not assassinated yet when the two met. And there’s no record of a telephonic conversation between the two leaders over Mr Soleimani’s assassination.

Claim disputed

Reports in the Pakistani media pointed out that Mr Trump’s claim of Mr. Khan going into seclusion following Mr Soleimani’s death is disputed also because Mr Khan addressed a rally in Mianwali the day after the incident and did not mention Mr. Soleimani’s assassination in his speech.

Additionally, the assertion that Mr Khan walked from his office to his home also appears to be untrue, as his office was about 15 kilometers from his home and as a prime minister he could not have walked 15 kilometers alone, without being noticed by anyone.

“Whatever your views of Imran Khan, it seems highly unlikely that he told Donald Trump that the assassination of Qassem Soleimani was ‘the biggest moment of my life’ and ’the biggest event that ever happened to me,” wrote Sadanand Dhume, a Wall Street Journal columnist while commenting on Mr Trump’s claim.

“This has to be the funniest thing Trump has ever said. Absolute genius!” wrote Ali Minai, in his reaction to Mr Dhume’s remarks.