Islamabad: Pakistan's cricketer-turned- politician Imran Khan on Wednesday refused to attend the upcoming 'India Today' Conclave in New Delhi after learning that controversial author Salman Rushdie was participating in the event.
   
In a statement issued by his Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party, Khan said he "could not even think of participating in any programme that included Salman Rushdie, who has caused immeasurable hurt to Muslims across the globe."
    
Khan was scheduled to participate as a keynote speaker in the conclave being organised by India Today magazine on March 16-17.

He expressed his regrets to the organisers.

The statement said Khan "only received and saw the full programme of the conclave last evening and took action early this morning to cancel his participation".

The organisers of the conclave announced on Tuesday that Rushdie would speak at the meet on the theme: "The Liberty Verses – I am What I Am and That's All That I Am".
    
Rushdie was recently unable to participate in the Jaipur Literature Festival following protests by Muslim groups.
   
His 1988 novel "The Satanic Verses" is still banned in India.

(Agencies)