Decoding Imran Khan: Struggle, Vision and Success
Pir Bilal Baba and M. Altaf
Imran Khan Niazi was born in 1952 at Lahore into a well off Pashtun family. He received an oxford university education studying politics and economics but his real passion was sports. He began, as most greats do playing at a very early age in Pakistan and then continued in England. And even today more than 25 years after his retirement he is still considered one of the greatest cricketers of all time. He led Pakistan to its first ever world cup title in 1992 playing a pivotal role in the final against England. Then, at the peak of his career he retired and four years later entered politics by forming his own party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (the Movement for justice). But his popularity in sports did not translate into politics. At last no right away. In fact, when he first contested in the 1997 elections, his party failed to win a single seat.
Khan is centre-right on the political spectrum but various sections of people are confused by his political leanings because he apparently often alters his opinions based on his audience. His party gets their strongest support from the youth and the urban middle class. His party has contested three national assembly elections and are slowly becoming recognized as a real political force.
Economic distability and internal terrorism is still a huge challenge for Pakistan and Imran Khan has a novel approach for fighting it. Despite the wide criticism he thinks that dialogue with the Taliban is the way to go. He even earned a nickname of ‘Taliban Khan’ for it. He is of the firm belief that peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s interest. He is critique to the US policy in Afghanistan which he calls has redicalised Afghans more even.
His party’s performance in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province they govern still fall short of its electoral promises according to many people. although there have been visible reforms in education and healthcare.
Though he is not very experienced in governance or diplomacy but Khan is confident about his approach. He says he will wipeout corruption, bring in foreign investment and provide better jobs to the youth. He also promises change in the agriculture, education fields and wide ranging reforms in tax collection. His party’s manifesto emphasizes the importance of internal peace as well. It says “we will act against hate speech and violence towards minorities ensuring constitutional rights of minorities”. His roadmap on foreign policy suggests a new strategy for conflict resolution and wants to improve resolutions with Pakistan’s eastern and western neighbours. Resolving the Kashmir issue is also the agenda of his party but how he plans to do that is a million dollar question.
Profile of Imran Khan is incomplete without looking into his marriages. Khan was a bachelor for his first 42 years of life but in the past 24 years, he has married three times. First to Jemina Goldsmith, the daughter of a jewish billionare who converted to Islam before their union, then to Reham Khan, a journalist and film producer and now Bushra Maneka, a woman whom he refers to as a spiritual adviser and faith healer. The couple got married in February this year. With all the changing faces many people were curious to see how he would be as the head of the Pakistani nation.
As of now he has been sworn in as Pakistan’s 22nd Prime Minister on 18th Augest this month subsequently of which he comprised a cabinet of 20 members. As he had run a populist compaign promising a change to the lives of Pakistanis and come down hard on corruption, the people are finger corossed with the very hope that Imran could deliver as per his commitment.
The authors are the RTI activists and can be mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
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