NEW YORK - Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chief Imran Khan has said that despite US objectionshe will continue his campaign against CIA's drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas that kill innocent people.
"Drone attacks must stop," Khan said at the fund-raising dinner that was attended by a large number of people at the hall of SoundviewBroadcating, a facility in Queens, New York.
Earlier, at Toronto International Airport, the PTI chief was offloaded from a New York-bound plane by US immigration officials and interrogated about his view on the drone strikes in Pakistan. He took another flight for New York after being cleared and reached New York four hours late from his schedule.
Khan said he told the American officials that the drone attacks were illegal and counterproductive as they only help create more militants and give the United States a bad image. He said he also told them that those who supported the drone strikes were not friends of the United States.
“My stand on drones is very clear. I did not say sorry to them,” Khan told reporters after arriving in New York. “I still couldn’t understand why they did this. The official was questioning me about drones but I think he himself didn’t understand what he was talking about,” he added. "But I told them what I say in public -- I'm not like those who say one thing during private meeting with the Americans, and something else publicly."
Earlier this month Imran Khan led thousands of supporters - and a group of American peace activists - on a march to the edge of South Waziristan to protest against drones.
The cricket legend said he suspected US officials simply wanted to make him miss an anti-drone protest that he was scheduled to lead in New York on Friday, without realizing the protest had already been postponed because of the Eidul Azha.
A State Department official acknowledged that Imran Khan was "briefly delayed" before boarding the next flight to the United States.
"The issue was resolved," the official said. "Mr Khan is welcome in the United States."
In his speech to his supporters at the fundraiser, he said called for Pakistan to disengage from the US war against terrorism, seek the support of the tribal people and promote a political settlement for the sake of peace and stability in that region.
A law professor at the University of Notre Dame, Mary Ellen O'Connell, came to the dinner to support Imran Khan's stand against drone strikes. She said the drone strikes were a violation of international law and must be ended immediately.
On other subjects, the PTI chief said he was confident of the success of his party in the general elections. "We have worked hard and we now see the momentum in our favour," he told the enthusiastic crowd.
Khan said Pakistan was poised for a change and no one can stop his party from coming into power. He said his team of experts was already evolving policies on agriculture reforms, economic stability, labour issues, foreign affairs, local governance, reforms in taxation system and educational reforms.
He declared that only people with clean record will get tickets to fight the elections. A screening system would be put in place and tickets awarded only on the basis of merit.  He would assemble a competent team to run the country and restore its image globally.
He said the PTI was preparing for internal elections after registering 10 million active members. The elections would be conducted with the help of modern technology, and the PTI would become the first to hold such polls and become a truly democratic party, Khan said.
PTI office-bearshighlighted Imran Khan's contribution to Pakistan before the audience and said he was the perfect man to steer the country of crisis. Singer Amjad Hussain enthralled the audience with patriotic songs as the crowd chanted "Pakistan Zinda Bad" and Imran Khan Zinda bad", while a local band rounded off the event playing popular songs.