OVERVIEW: PM Khan begins tight-rope-walk of managing Pakistan
It wasn’t clear until July 24, 2018 who is going to take the reins of Pakistan. A day later, the ‘promised’ change by famed cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was a reality as his party emerged victorious in the elections in the face of 22 years of his political endeavor.
Khan, is one of the prominent leaders of Pakistan known for blunt stance on political matters, is now elected the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan after results of the July 25 elections.
Imran Khan was born in Lahore on November 25, 1952, and was educated at Lahore’s elite Aitchison College where he excelled at cricket. A fine batsman, he made his first-class debut for Lahore against Sarghodha at the age of 16.
Imran was selected for the Pakistan national team in 1970, where he soon won a permanent place. He finished his high school education at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester, England, and went on to study Economics and Politics at Keble College, Oxford. He captained the Oxford University XI in 1974.
As the 1970s rolled on, Imran developed into a world-class cricketing “all-rounder”, and became captain of the Pakistani national side in 1981. Declared international cricketer of the year in 1989-90, he led Pakistan to victory in 1992 World Cup.
After that triumph, he retired with a total of 3,807 runs and 362 wickets in test matches. He also played for the English counties of Sussex and Worcestershire.
In 1996, Imran started a political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (Movement for Justice). The party has Islamic overtones and was inspired partly by his renewed commitment to Islam.
Around the same time, he opened the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust Cancer Hospital in memory of his mother who had died from the disease. Today it has won international recognition as one of the leading institutions for free cancer treatment in the world.
He lost a first parliamentary election in 1997, before finally winning a seat in 2002. He resigned in 2007 along with other members, in protest at Pervez Musharraf’s re-election as president while he was still army chief.
Imran went into hiding soon after Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3, 2007. Police detained him on November 14 after he had emerged from hiding to lead a student protest.
The turning point for his party was PTI’s mammoth public gathering in Lahore on October 30, 2011. The massive attendance of his well-wishers and his supporters pronounced Khan’s arrival in the mainstream politics and virtually posed a threat to other political forces of the country.
The rally prompted assumptions among political circles that Khan’s party would likely win the 2013 general elections, but it didn’t go that way. His party though received second largest number of votes after PML-N.
The dream finally came true for Khan after his party emerged as the single largest party in the 25 July 2018 polls, however it required the help of other political parties and independent candidates to form the coalition government and the party eventually managed to win support of smaller parties.
The next government in Pakistan now faces myriad challenges from unsustainable population growth to simmering extremism, all complicated by the decades-long tussle between civilian and military leadership.
The new government will have to make hard choices, and quickly.
Will Mr. Khan surmount all the challenges like he had promised in his pre-election speeches or it will just prove to be the rabble-rousing? Interesting times lie ahead…