Row erupts over picture of Respect candidate holding a machine gun

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Asif Khan (right) pictured ten years ago in Afghanistan on an aid mission Asif Khan (right) pictured ten years ago in Afghanistan on an aid mission

A row has broken out between two Bradford Council election candidates after the Labour Party drew attention to a Facebook picture of a Respect candidate brandishing a gun.

The picture of Asif Khan, who is standing in the Bowling and Barkerend ward, has led Salma Iqbal, a Labour candidate in the Bradford Moor to question his suitability to be a councillor.

But Mr Khan last night called Labour “childish” and “desperate” for trying to make capital from a picture taken when he was on a visit to an aid mission to Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan in 2002. Miss Iqbal, who appears to have mistakenly believed Mr Khan is a Bradford Moor candidate, said: “I’m appalled at this photograph and I imagine fellow residents in Bradford Moor will be too. Serious questions have to be asked about this man’s suitability to stand in an election to become a councillor. How can someone wanting to represent Bradford Moor residents think this is acceptable?”

Mr Khan said the picture was taken when he was on an aid mission to refugees with £20,000 cash raised locally and he had armed bodyguards.

He said that it was taken in a tribal area. “I made the trip when I held a senior position in Kirklees Council,” he said. “This is desperation and I feel sorry for them (Labour). Instead of talking about issues, they are going to my Facebook and finding ten-year-old pictures and it is just childish.”

He added that there were more pictures of him with shotguns on Facebook because he attends shooting grounds in Skipton.

In response to Mr Khan’s reaction a Labour spokesman said: “The fact that Respect is perfectly happy to defend one of its candidates brandishing a substantial assault weapon in a civilian situation defies belief.

“It’s one of a collection of photos on Mr Khan’s Facebook account featuring lethal weaponry which would be illegal in the UK.”

A Respect spokesman said: “Labour’s Bradford Moor candidate Salma Iqbal has said the voters of Bradford Moor will be dismayed by a photo of Asif Khan. But Asif Khan isn’t standing in Bradford Moor.”

He said Mr Khan was the chairman of the Yorkshire and Humberside branch of the British section of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

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