Can Imran Khan bring any significant change to Pakistan?
Also Known As: Imran Khan Niazi
Sun Sign: Libra
Age: 65 Years
Born In: Lahore, West Punjab, Dominion Of Pakistan
Famous As: Ex-Cricketer, Politician
Height: 1.85 M
Political Ideology: Pakistan Tehreek-E-Insaf
Spouse/Ex-: Bushra Maneka (M. 2018), Jemima Khan (M. 1995–2004), Reham Khan (M. 2015–2015)
Father: Ikramullah Khan Niazi
Mother: Shaukat Khanum
Siblings: Aleema Khanum, Rani Khanum, Rubina Khanum, Uzma Khanum
Children: Qasim Khan, Sulaiman Khan
Net Worth: $50 Million As Of Jan 2017
Imran Khan Niazi was born on October 5, 1952 in Lahore, into a well-off Pashtun family to Ikramullah Khan Niazi and Shaukat Khanam.
He completed his schooling from English-medium Aitchison College, Lahore, and went to Royal Grammar School Worcester, England, to pursue higher studies.
He graduated in philosophy, politics and economics from Keble College, University of Oxford, in 1975. Hailing from a cricketing family, he played the game as a teenager in Pakistan and continued in England.
He made his test debut in the 1971 English series in Birmingham, but failed to make a mark due to his not-so-good performance.
In 1974, he debuted in One Day International (ODI) in the Prudential Trophy and was selected in the national team after returning to Pakistan.
His splendid performance against New Zealand and Australia during 1976-77 added to his rapid success, which made him a prominent fast bowler in Pakistan during the 1980s.
He was chosen as the captain of Pakistan cricket team in 1982. He performed stupendously as a fast bowler and all-rounder, leading his team to its first Test victory against England, at Lord’s, after 28 years.
Under his captaincy, Pakistan won 14 out of 48 test matches played, losing out on 8 and 26 resulting in a draw. In the ODI version, he played 139 matches, with 77 wins, 57 losses, and one tie.
A stress fracture in his shin kept him away from cricket for two years. He returned and gave Pakistan its first ever Test series win against India in 1987, followed by Test series win in England.
He retired in 1987, but returned in 1988, upon Pakistan President General Zia-ul-Haq’s request. He won a Test series against West Indies and was declared ‘Man of the Series’ for his 23-wicket haul in 3 tests.
In 1991, he established Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a charity organization associated with research and development of cancer and other related diseases, named after his mother.
He retired from cricket in 1992, with 3807 runs and 362 wickets in tests and 3709 runs and 182 wickets in ODI.
He entered politics in 1997 by setting up his own party ‘Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’ (PTI), as an initiative to eradicate mismanagement and corruption in Pakistan.
He contested in October 2002 elections and was elected as a Member Parliament from Mianwali.
In 2008, he founded Namal College, an associate college of the University of Bradford and established Imran Khan Foundation.
During the 2013 election campaign, he started ‘Naya Pakistan Resolution’, after which his party posed a threat to the main opposing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
He rejected the offer to collaborate with Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
He injured his head and back upon tumbling from a stage during a campaign rally, four days prior to elections and continued to vote appeal from the hospital but party lost to PML-N.
His views on cricket have been published in different British and Asian newspapers and Indian publications, including Outlook, Guardian, Independent, and Telegraph.
He is actively involved with commentary on cricket matches for various sports networks, like Star TV, BBC Urdu, and TEN Sports.
Imran Khan recently unveiled the PTI’s road map for the first 100 days in office if it forms the next government. PTI’s critics as well as political opponents have already done a detailed postmortem of its road map. The action plan announced with much fanfare has many aspects albeit with little focus and debate on the PTI’s proposed foreign policy.
In most democratic countries, elections are usually fought on internal policies and hence there is little or no debate on foreign policy in the run-up to the parliamentary elections. But as Pakistan is beset by a host of challenges on the foreign policy front, one cannot take one’s eye off the subject. Tensions with India continue to soar. Relations with Afghanistan are fragile. The US has stepped up pressure on Pakistan. And on top of it, Pakistan is facing international isolation partly because of flawed policies and partly because of geopolitics. The only two bright spots are our ever-growing relationship with China, which has its own reasons to have strategic ties with Pakistan, and the expansion of ties with Russia.
But barring these positive developments, there are no notable achievements on the foreign policy front. Against this backdrop, any party, which forms the next government, will have its hands full on the foreign policy front.
Does the PTI really have a robust foreign policy or any new ideas to steer the country out of current challenges? In his 100-day plan, Imran Khan looks to initiate new policies rooted in Pakistan’s priorities, including a conflict-resolution approach towards improving relations with eastern and western neighbours. The PTI also intends to initiate work on a blueprint towards resolving the Kashmir issue within the parameters of the UNSC resolutions. Other policy measures envisaged include “Improve Pakistan’s relevance, regionally and globally, both at the bilateral and multilateral levels including moves to expand the existing strategic partnership with China, as well as with our allies in the region.”
On paper that sounds good but ironically, the PTI’s action plan is not different from the policies of the outgoing government of the PML-N. It also wanted to pursue the policy of a peaceful neighbourhood with emphasis on economic diplomacy.
But here lies the challenge: how the PTI will succeed where others have failed? When a senior PTI leader, who is thought to be the author of the party’s foreign and national security policy, was asked by a TV anchor to share details of the blueprint or any idea on Kashmir resolution, she had no clear answer. What was interesting was that Shireen Mazari advocated a hardline approach both towards India and the US. Mazari even indicated that the PTI, if voted to power, would be ready to go to any extent to respond to Indian aggression, albeit without nuclear conflagration.
On the US, Mazari was of the view that Pakistan under the PTI would speak with Trump in his own language. That is certainly a popular line and it may help the PTI win applause from ‘nationalists.’ But this approach only adds to Pakistan’s current woes. In the present circumstances, Pakistan needs to avoid a confrontational approach. We can follow the Chinese model. China has nuclear weapons, missiles and military might, yet its rise at the global stage can only be attributed to its focus on the economy. China’s combined bilateral trade with Japan and India alone currently stands at over $400 billion, despite Beijing having serious political and even territorial disputes with Tokyo and New Delhi. China has shown us that foreign policy is an art to make new friends and create inter-dependencies with your rivals. The PTI can replicate that template. Perennial tensions with India have only distracted Pakistan from the path of economic prosperity. Therefore, Imran can’t enforce a ‘new vision’ without ensuring a peaceful neighbourhood. But that requires statecraft, not bravado.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2018.