The Rise of Pakistan’s Imran Khan | NowThis World

Cricket superstar Playboy

Politician Imran Khan has been called many things But now he’s earned a new title: Prime Minister Imran Khan, was officially declared the winner of Pakistan’s highly contested the July, 2018 election, despite opposition parties’ persistent demands for a recount But how did this former sports star end up securing the highest political position in a country of almost 200 million people? I’m Alex, this is NowThis World, and in light of Imran Khan’s recent political triumph, we’re taking a look at his rise to power

Let’s rewind to March 1992 Khan, then-captain of the Pakistan national cricket team led his team to an unprecedented victory for the country It was Pakistan’s first and only World Cup win to date – and a moment of extreme pride for its citizens Khan, who was already a celebrated cricketer throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, saw his celebrity status skyrocket even further Beloved both at home and in the West, he had an active and public social and love life – his marriage to British heiress in 1995 making international news

Media outlets hailed him a “playboy,” and “sex symbol” But he endeavoured to shed this image for that of a more conservative and pious Figure Some experts suggested this came as part of his desire to be taken more seriously in the political arena down the line But first, the made headlines as a philanthropist, fundraising millions of dollars to open a cancer hospital for low-income patients in honor of his late mother in December, 1994 It was around this time – a few years after the World Cup victory – that speculation about Khan’s leadership potential started popping up, and it was rumored was he was setting his sights on a political career

"If I felt that by going into politics I would be able to help my country I certainly would But the fact is in Pakistan politics is completely corrupt Soon he would outline what would become his core issue for 22 years: ridding Pakistani politics of corruption And in 1996, he made it official: founding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI party Also referred to as the “Movement for Justice,” the party was branded as an anti-corruption, socio-political movement, aiming to create a quote “self-reliant modern Islamic Republic

” But for almost two decades, Khan’s party saw few victories “He did not become an instant political star and I think the reason for that is he was unwilling to go the route that most politicians in Pakistan do, and that’s to sort of try to draw on the most powerful people in the country like the army and other powerful players and have them help him” In their first general election contest in 1997, the PTI didn’t win a single parliamentary seat The 2002 election was also a relative failure, with Khan winning just one seat These defeats earned him a nickname among his critics: “Imran Khan’t

” But he kept pushing In 2007, he even took his anti-corruption convictions so far as to lead a student protest over the authoritarian crackdown by then-military ruler and President General Pervez Musharraf, for which he was arrested In jail, he went on a hunger strike as a further act of protest “The only way you fight extremism and radicalisation is having a genuine democratic system, this is not the way by using your army" His PTI party would boycott the ‘08 elections over the lack of an independent judiciary

And Khan’s predisposition to blaze his own trail would continue to lead him to take some pretty controversial stances Some critics accused him of failing to firmly crack down on violent extremist groups – even dubbing him with the nickname “Taliban Khan” Though Khan has largely condemned violent terrorist attacks, critics argue that he’s at times acted as an apologist for groups like the Tablian: blaming the group’s presence in Pakistan on US intervention in Afghanistan and urging negotiations with them

"If there was a chance of peace talks, we should've grabbed it” Critics also say he’s failed to adequately support Pakistan’s persecuted religious minorities by strongly defending the country’s blasphemy laws These laws – the foundation of which were first introduced under British colonial rule – criminalize derogatory remarks against the interpretation of Islam sanctioned by the government Muslim minority groups in Pakistan, like Ahmadis and Shias, as well as Hindu and Christian Pakistanis, have been disproportionately persecuted under these laws Since the ‘90s, dozens of people have been murdered after being accused of blasphemy, and others sit on death row over legal provisions

The PTI has pushed back on this criticism- saying Kahn has “repeatedly educated the masses on tolerance for minorities in Islam” He did stand up for religious minorities in certain instances, including in 2013 when a Christian colony was gutted by a mob over alleged blasphemy But Khan has said the laws are not to blame for the deaths, and reiterated his strong support for them just weeks before the latest election Despite his ongoing contentions, 2013 ended up being his party’s most successful year up to that point The PTI won 27 seats – still not a major victory, but a step in the right direction for the party

Of course, as he spent more time in the political spotlight, controversies continued As recently as 2017 and 2018, sexual harassment allegations emerged against him, which Khan has ignored or denied altogether "Sports teaches you that life is not in a straight line, ups and downs You take your knock, then each time you pick yourself up from the mat, then you are successful” He vowed to lift millions of people out of poverty, create jobs, and to improve access to education and healthcare

He also doubled down on calls to root out corruption and a promise to challenge the status quo “they really see [Khan] as the guy that can tackle corruption, just because he’s not one of “them” so to speak – he doesn’t come from the corrupt political class, he’s not the product of a family dynasty, he doesn’t come from one of the two major political parties” Experts say his anti-corruption, anti-elitism, anti-poverty campaigning really resonated with young, middle-class, urban voters As of late 2017, people under the age of 35 accounted for almost half of the country’s registered voters And in July 2018, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party won 115 out of 270 available seats

He had finally achieved of a goal that was more than two decades in the works There was mass celebration in the streets But later, it would be followed by protest, amid speculation that the powerful military may have played a heavy hand in getting Kahn elected – including potentially playing a role in the 2017 ousting of then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif The expert we spoke to says Khan’s relationship with the military will be one of the single most important determining factors in how successful his government will be Khan may have a tough road ahead

He is also inheriting a looming debt and currency crisis, and strained relations with the US, Afghanistan, and India Addressing those issues – coupled with his long-held promise to curb corruption – make for one tall order So, can he get it done? Certainly, his supporters have high hopes

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