Decoding Imran Khan: Struggle, Vision and Success

imran khan

Co-Written by Peer Bilal Baba and M. Altaf

Imran Khan was born in 1952 in 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 continuing 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. In fact, when he first ran 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 run three elections and is slowly becoming recognized as a real political force. Economic disability and internal terrorism is still a huge challenge for Pakistan and Imran Khan has a novel approach to fighting it. Despite the wide criticism he thinks that talking with the Taliban is the way to go. He even earned a nickname for that ‘Taliban Khan’. He is of the firm belief that it is in Pakistan’s interest that there is peace in Afghanistan. He is critique to the US policy in Afghanistan which he calls had radicalized 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.

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 and 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 neighbors. Resolving the Kashmir issue is also the agenda of his party but how he plans to do that is a million dollar question.

No profile on Imran khan is complete without looking into his marriages. Khan was a bachelor the first 42 years of his life but in the past 24 years, he has married three times. First to Jemina Goldsmith, the daughter of a Jewish billionaire 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 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 18thAugust this month subsequently of which he comprised a cabinet of 20 members. As he had run a populist campaign promising a change to the lives of Pakistanis and come down hard on corruption, the people accordingly are keeping their fingers crossed with the very hope that Imran could deliver as per his commitment and promises.

The authors are the RTI activists and can be mailed at [email protected] and [email protected]

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