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Imran Khan's 22-year Wait is Finally Over and is on The Cusp of Getting 'the Prize'

Imran Khan has not one case of corruption against him, probably unprecedented in the Islamic Republic.

Aishwarya Kumar |

Updated:July 26, 2018, 8:38 PM IST
Imran Khan's 22-year Wait is Finally Over and is on The Cusp of Getting 'the Prize'
Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) gestures to his supporters during a campaign meeting ahead of general elections in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 21, 2018. (REUTERS)
New Delhi: In her book, Reham Khan talks a great deal about her ex-husband Imran Khan’s anguish over the 2014 Azadi March and how he felt that it was about time that he was “given the prize”.

If any of that is true, then Imran’s wait seems to have paid off and the prize seems to have landed into his lap as his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), swept the general elections in Pakistan.

From the world of cricket to the rough terrain of Pakistani politics, Imran has ensured that he appeals to the masses (quite evident from the votes) and also particularly the youth of Pakistan.

Born in Lahore in 1952, Imran was raised in an affluent Pashtun family and educated at the most elite institutions, including Oxford. Married thrice with two kids, one of the brightest moments for him as a cricketer was lifting the World Cup in 1992.

From the current context, a picture of him holding the Cup along with then PM Nawaz Sharif could bring a sense of trepidation. Nawaz is now in jail and Imran is set to become PM.

Imran is unlike the other political leaders that Pakistan has seen. He has a legacy but that’s something he’s built on his own from the cricket field. Unlike the dynasties that have ruled Pakistan over the years, Imran’s appeal has been more independent.

Additionally, the man has not one case of corruption against him, probably unprecedented in the Islamic Republic.

Most of the top leaders of Pakistan, including former PM Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam, PPP’s Asif Zardari, have one or multiple cases of corruption against them. Imran’s clean image that ways has been a matter of great gossip in Pakistan and otherwise.

In an interview to New York Times earlier this year, Imran had thrown his weight behind the Army, still considered to be the most powerful and influential institution in Pakistan. By saying that he would carry the Army with him, he fuelled rumours that he was being backed by the Army and that he was playing into the hands of the ‘establishment’ into winning a rigged election.

The Human Right Commission of Pakistan has outrightly condemned the establishment, accusing them of siding with PTI and doling out an unfair treatment to the opposition leaders.

Imran has time and again refuted such claims and even gone ahead into calling his opponents unworthy and “too corrupt” to be part of an alliance to form government.

His ex-wife’s claims of his gay encounters and black magic methods too have not the least made a dent in his image, something that PTI had said repeatedly. In an interview to News18 earlier this year, senior PTI leader Iftikhar Durrani had called the book ‘pornographic.’

His image also stems from his governance over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a region which has over the years seen an improvisation in its governance. Most of that credit has gone to PTI, if not Imran.

And it is almost impossible to forget the time when Princess Diana visited Lahore in 1996 after Imran raised millions of dollars to set up what was Pakistan’s first ever cancer hospital for the poor. Diana was a great friend of Imran’s then (and first) wife, Jemima and Imran ensured that the British royal was there during his grand entry into Pakistani civil society. His private life, with many terming it too colourful to be true, and the constant attention given to it is something that he has chosen to not fend off, if not feed. He likes the attention and is known to be a man who wants to be in midst of things and still have control.

It is an image that he has maintained over the years that seemed to have finally worked in his favour — the suave leader with a smooth yet brutal tongue. Whilst calling his party one that is centre right, Imran has time and again drifted to the extreme by occasionally backing what the Taliban believes in. He has often been called the saviour of Pakistan, the stance almost sugar coated by Imran’s support to the controversial blasphemy law along with his dream of a “Naya Pakistan”. The religious overtures in Imran’s tones and speeches are hard to miss.

His mostly anti-America stand and calling the fight against terrorism “madness” has earned him the name Donald Trump of Pakistan on social media. It, however, still remains to be seen how he intends to govern. A cricket star turned politician, Imran might be the most eclectic person to have held the key to the nuclear-armed Pakistan.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat of the state Assemblies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Telangana, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you put on the psephologist's hat. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections. Elections = News18)
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