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How Pakistan’s cricket superstar became prime minister

How Pakistan’s cricket superstar became prime minister


March 25th 1992 was a big day for
Pakistan the national cricket team beat England to win the world Imran Khan was the face of victory the
Pakistani captain was already a global celebrity and he had a reputation for
being a handsome bachelor but almost 30 years later Khan’s public identity has
completely changed he is now Pakistan’s new prime minister So how did
Pakistan’s cricket superstar become its new leader and will he be the one to
bring change in a country that has long been controlled by its powerful military Oh
from a young age imran khan was exposed to foreign influences he grew up in
lahore where he attended british prep schools and eventually went on to Oxford
University where he sharpened his cricket skills living in England Khan
started gaining popularity as a cricketer he embraced his life in the
West and became a staple of celebrity culture his athletic career lasted more
than two decades after winning the World Cup in 1992 he retired from the game
initially he stayed away from politics I am NOT meant to be a politician there
not everyone becomes the prime minister to help his country in 1994 he opened
the first specialized Cancer Hospital in Pakistan around the same time he started
shedding his ladies-man image and re-engaged with religion he married his
first wife of three British heiress Jemima Goldsmith’s
who converted to Islam after they settled in Pakistan where he further
distanced himself from his life in the West in 1996 Khan created his own
political party the PTI he promised to build an Islamic welfare state that
would take care of the poor and hold the people in power accountable only few
people are held accountable the rest who unknown crooks get away with it come
back to fight another nation he had a strong anti-corruption message and
positioned himself as the alternative to Pakistan’s two political dynasties the
sherrif’s and the Bhutto’s who had been trading off power and corruption charges
for decades at first Khan’s party had little success failing to win a single
parliamentary seat in the 1997 elections but several years later in 2013 Khan’s
party won control of a northwestern province bordering Afghanistan his
anti-corruption agenda has started gaining ground especially among young
Pakistanis and it was working on a national level he went from being the
longshot to a strong political contender in the election for prime minister he
lost in a wash to wreath of the Sharif dynasty but was now a key political
player in Pakistan as a cricketer Imran Khan was a reliable
performer but as a politician he has taken some unexpected turns in 2013
Khan’s party called for a review of Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law
which carries a death penalty for insulting Islam they said religion was
being misused to attain power in the majority Muslim country now five years
later Khan has been criticized for defending the same law earlier as part
of his anti-corruption stance Khan denounced opponents Sharif’s party but
later he recruited candidates from the same party to boost his own Khan has
also been criticized for his leniency with the Taliban in 2012 after 14 year
old Malala yousufzai was shot in Pakistan by the Taliban for championing
education for girls Khan showed support for the militant group at large calling
their fight a justified holy war. Khan blames the US for the rise of extremism in the region. He has long been a critic of US military intervention in Afghanistan
particularly the drone strikes along the Pakistan border this anti-american
sentiment resonated with large parts of the Pakistani population that see the
US as an enemy his own solution for the Taliban is
centered on peace talks a push that has earned him the nickname Taliban common
so you’re basically recommending a strategy of negotiation with the Taliban
and a complete elimination of the drones if I hear you properly it is the only
way believe me it is the only way what makes khan’s tolerance of the
Taliban interesting is that it seems to align with the interest of the Pakistani
military the military’s power can be traced back to 1947 when British India
was divided into two countries a Muslim majority Pakistan and Hindu majority
India as people migrated to the country of their religion intense violence broke
out the Pakistani military stepped in to settle conflict at the border becoming a
symbol of national identity and the establishment that held a new country
together since then the military has controlled all national security and
foreign policy matters one of their main concerns is the war in Afghanistan which
benefits them in two ways on one hand the US has paid the Pakistani military
billions in exchange for routes to the country to continue their fight with the
Taliban at the same time the military supports the Taliban because the
instability in Afghanistan keeps the country isolated from Pakistan’s rivals
especially India the military has also interfered with
the democratic process within Pakistan since independence it has either ruled
the country directly or controlled it indirectly Pakistan has had 22 prime
ministers and none of them has ever completed a full term
they either resigned they were terminated they finished a term they
didn’t start or they were assassinated there were also three successful
military coups because of Pakistan’s tense political past the election was
high stakes in the months leading up to the vote religious extremist groups try
to destabilize the electoral process by killing at least 200 people in a
string of attacks including a polling station bombing on Election Day that
killed 31 people just weeks before the 2018 election Khan’s opponent former
Prime Minister Sharif was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 10 years in
jail the military was accused of engineering Sharif’s downfall and
clearing the wafer Khan Khan went on to win against bilawal Bhutto and Shahbaz
Sharif the new candidates from Pakistan’s political dynasties his win
was followed by protests and accusations of election fraud which he said he would
investigate and on August 18th Imran Khan was sworn in as the Prime
Minister of Pakistan since the victory his corruption message has remained
front and center: But his anti-american stance seems to be
shifting: Whether leader will bring about the change he promised is still uncertain the only certainty is that his leadership will be
shaped by his relationship with Pakistan’s most powerful authority: the
military.

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