KHAN'S JOURNEY FROM CRICKET TO THE SEAT OF PRIME MINISTER OF PAKISTAN
Khan's journey from cricket to politics
In the early 1980’s Imram Khan played as an all-rounder and was the captain of the Pakistani cricket team in 1982. In 1992 Khan achieved his greatest athletic success when he led the Pakistani team to its first World Cup title, defeating England in the final. He resigned that very year, having made sure about standing as one of the best cricket major players in history.
Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital
After 1992 Khan remained in the public eye as a philanthropist. He experienced a religious awakening, embracing Sufi mysticism and shedding his earlier playboy image. In one of his philanthropic endeavors, Khan acted as the primary fund-raiser for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, a specialized cancer hospital in Lahore, which opened in 1994. The hospital was named after Khan’s mother, who had died of cancer in 1985.
Khan’s political party
After his retirement from cricket, he became an outspoken critic of government dereliction and corruption in Pakistan. He founded his own political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (Justice Movement), in 1996. In national elections held the following year, the newly formed party won less than 1 percent of the vote and failed to win any seats in the National Assembly, but it fared slightly better in the 2002 elections, winning a single seat that Khan filled. Khan maintained that vote-rigging was to blame for his party’s low vote totals. In October 2007 Khan was among a group of politicians who resigned from the National Assembly, protesting President Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy in the upcoming presidential election. In November Khan was briefly imprisoned during a crackdown against critics of Musharraf, who had declared a state of emergency. Tehreek-e-Insaf condemned the state of emergency, which ended in mid-December, and boycotted the 2008 national elections to protest Musharraf’s rule.
Khan’s Populist Position
In spite of Tehreek-e-Insaf’s struggles in elections, Khan’s populist positions found support, especially among young people. He continued his criticism of corruption and economic inequality in Pakistan and opposed the Pakistani government’s cooperation with the United States in fighting militants near the Afghan border. He also launched broadsides against Pakistan’s political and economic elites, whom he accused of being westernized and out of touch with Pakistan’s religious and cultural norms.
Khan’s writings included Warrior Race: A Journey through the Land of the Tribal Pathans (1993) and Pakistan: A Personal History (2011).
The most popular political figure of Pakistan
In the months leading up to the legislative elections scheduled for early 2013, Khan and his party drew large crowds at rallies and attracted the support of several veteran politicians from Pakistan’s established parties. Further evidence of Khan’s rising political fortunes came in the form of an opinion poll in 2012 that found him to be the most popular political figure in Pakistan.
Just days before legislative elections in May 2013, he fell from a platform at a campaign rally and injured his head and back. He appeared on television from his hospital bed hours later to make a final appeal to voters. The elections produced Tehreek-e-Insaf’s highest totals yet, but the party still won less than half the number of seats won by the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), led by Nawaz Sharif. Khan accused the PML-N of rigging the elections. After his calls for an investigation went unmet, he and other opposition leaders led four months of protests in late 2014 in order to pressure Sharif to step down.
The protests failed to oust Sharif, but suspicions of corruption were amplified when the Panama Papers linked his family to offshore holdings. Khan organized a new set of protests in late 2016 but called them off at the last minute after the Supreme Court agreed to open an investigation. The investigation disqualified Sharif from holding public office in 2017, and he was forced to resign from office. Khan, meanwhile, was also revealed to have had offshore holdings but, in a separate case, was not disqualified by the Supreme Court.
Elections were held the following year, in July 2018. Khan ran on a platform of fighting corruption and poverty, even as he had to fight off accusations that he was too cozy with the military establishment. Tehreek-e-Insaf won a majority of seats in the National Assembly, allowing Khan to seek a coalition with independent members of the parliament. He became Prime Minister on August 18.