ISLAMABAD - Imran Khan sits inside his luxurious double-storey house in Islamabad's finest suburb with Henry Kissinger's latest book on the coffee table, CNN on television and anger over the US bombing of Afghanistan on his mind.
Recognized as one of cricket's finest tacticians and a national icon, the former Pakistan captain turned politician believes the US decision to attack Afghanistan will backfire.
"With each bomb that falls on Afghanistan, anti-Americanism is growing in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and across the Muslim world," Khan said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.
When it comes to the troubled relationship between the West and the Islamic world, Khan is well placed to comment.
The scion of a prominent family of Pashtuns -- the fiercely independent tribe that dominates Afghanistan -- Khan was educated at Britain's prestigious Oxford University, where he took a degree in politics, philosophy and economics.
When he announced that he was to marry his wife Jemima, the daughter of British Jewish financier Sir James Goldsmith, many expected him to settle permanently in one of London's swankier neighborhoods.
Instead he has based himself in Pakistan's cultural capital Lahore, from where he leads his own political Justice Movement and runs a cancer hospital he established in memory of his late mother, Shaukat Khanum.
Khan's beautiful blonde wife, his globe-trotting sporting career, and his devotion to Islam are all part of a complex mix from which his views on events following the September 11 terrorist strikes on the United States have been distilled.
"The moment I saw those scenes on television I knew the world was never going to be the same again," the 48-year-old says.
"The immediate response we all feared was this clash of civilization theory would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
"We all worried what the United States was going to do because there was this raging bull out for revenge but there was no clear target.
"So we waited for what they were going to do and they zeroed in on this part of the world."
Khan says he does not object to Osama bin Laden, the accused mastermind of the attacks on the United States who is hiding in Afghanistan, being brought to justice.
It is President George W. Bush's "wanted dead or alive" form of justice and the military action that is killing innocent civilians in Afghanistan that Khan says is wrong for moral and political reasons.
"The longer and bloodier the attacks become, the greater the sense of injustice in this part of the world and the more the hatred will grow against America," he says.
"This is what bin Laden wants. He wants the sympathies of the Muslim world with him. He will play on the double standards of the Western world."
Khan says Americans do not understand the reasons for the terrorist attacks on them and accuses the nation's media and political institutions of keeping the population in the dark.
"Unfortunately in the United States there is still this denial going on.
"I keep watching American television programs and I am shocked that they are referring to this hatred which has caused these terrorist attacks and they attribute it to (Muslim martyrs getting) virgins in heaven.
"They don't want to look deeper into the causes.
"Unfortunately the reason is a very a sad thing -- the Israeli lobby is so powerful in the United States in the media and Congress, it just does not allow the debate to take place."
Khan says issues such as Washington's support for Israel and "denying Palestinians all their rights" are not discussed in the United States for fear of being labeled anti-Semitic.
"But they don't understand they are endangering their security in the long run by doing this and they are endangering the whole globe."
Khan describes bin Laden as a product of the CIA, in reference to the United States' intelligence agency support for the Saudi-born dissident when he fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion between 1979 and 1989.
"Now he's become a symbol of anti-Americanism not only in the Muslim world, but all over the world as a resistance to the great power."
Kahn says killing bin Laden, as the United States is aiming to do, will make him a martyr.
"Then there will be more Osama bin Ladens and that is playing directly into his hands -- that's what he wants.
"In my opinion the way to deal with him was how a civilized world should have dealt with him and that is to have a powerful international court where evidence was presented."
Kahn says one of his biggest fears is that the US bombing of Afghanistan will lead to a massive rise in fundamentalism in Pakistan, leading to a radical Islamic government and making centralist parties like his Movement for Justice organization irrelevant.
"I see a worst case scenario that Pakistan, by supporting the United States, ends up being destabilized, a radical government comes in and then we get bombed by the United States for supporting terrorism. I can picture that worst case scenario."
As for the Henry Kissinger novel "Does America Need a Foreign Policy" on his coffee table, Khan gives the impression it is about as authoritative as a medium pacer trundling in to the crease with an old ball.
Copyright © 2001 AFP