Imran Khan
Imran Khan

Latest Imran Khan biography | Prime Minister of Pakistan (August 2018 to April 2022)

Posted on

Imran Khan, born on October 5, 1952, in Lahore, Pakistan, is a prominent anti-establishment politician. In 2022, he made history as the first prime minister (2018–22) to be ousted through a parliamentary vote. Before his political career, Khan gained recognition as a cricket player, captaining Pakistan’s national team to victory in the Cricket World Cup in 1992. Transitioning to politics, Khan Imran Khan emerged as a vocal critic of government corruption in Pakistan. However, his political journey faced a twist in 2022 when he encountered corruption charges after a fallout with the politically influential army. This development added a complex layer to Imran Khan’s legacy as both a cricketing icon and a figure in Pakistani politics.

Imran Khan’s Early life and cricket career

Imran Khan was born into an affluent Pashtun family in Lahore and received his education at prestigious institutions in both Pakistan and the United Kingdom. His academic journey included studies at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester and Aitchison College in Lahore. Coming from a family with a cricketing legacy, Khan had two elder cousins, Javed Burki and Majid Khan, both of whom served as captains of the Pakistani national cricket team.

Imran Khan’s involvement in cricket began in his teenage years, playing in both Pakistan and the United Kingdom. While pursuing his studies in philosophy, politics, and economics at the University of Oxford, Khan continued to excel in cricket. He made his debut for Pakistan’s national team in 1971, and after graduating from Oxford in 1976, he secured a permanent place in the team. By the early 1980s, Khan had established himself as an exceptional bowler and all-rounder, eventually being appointed as the captain of the Pakistani team in 1982.

Imran Khan’s athletic prowess and charismatic appearance made him a celebrity in both Pakistan and England, with his regular presence at fashionable London nightclubs drawing attention from the British tabloid press. In 1992, Khan achieved the pinnacle of his cricketing career by leading the Pakistani team to its first World Cup title, defeating England in the final. He retired the same year, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest cricket players in history.

Post-retirement, Khan remained in the public eye as a philanthropist. Undergoing a religious transformation, he embraced Sufi mysticism, departing from his earlier playboy image. One of his significant philanthropic efforts involved serving as the primary fundraiser for the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore, which opened its doors in 1994. Named after Khan’s mother, who succumbed to cancer in 1985, the hospital stands as a testament to his commitment to healthcare and charitable endeavors.

Entry into politics

Following his retirement from cricket, Imran Khan emerged as a vocal critic of government mismanagement and corruption in Pakistan. In 1996, he founded the Imran Khan political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Justice Movement; PTI). The PTI faced initial challenges, securing less than 1 percent of the vote in the national elections held the following year. Despite the setback, Khan persevered, and in the 2002 elections, the party managed to secure a single seat, filled by Khan himself. Khan contended that vote rigging was responsible for the party’s initial low vote totals.

In October 2007, Khan, along with a group of politicians, resigned from the National Assembly in protest of President Pervez Musharraf’s candidacy in the upcoming presidential election. Subsequently, in November, Khan faced a brief period of imprisonment during a crackdown against critics of Musharraf, who had declared a state of emergency. The PTI strongly condemned the state of emergency, which concluded in mid-December. In response to Musharraf’s rule, the PTI boycotted the 2008 national elections.

Despite facing challenges in electoral success, Imran Khan’s populist stances resonated, particularly among the youth. He continued to critique corruption and economic inequality in Pakistan and opposed the government’s collaboration with the United States in combating militants near the Afghan border. Khan also launched scathing attacks against Pakistan’s political and economic elites, accusing them of being Westernized and disconnected from the country’s religious and cultural norms.

Imran Khan’s literary contributions encompassed works such as “Warrior Race: A Journey Through the Land of the Tribal Pathans” (1993) and “Pakistan: A Personal History” (2011).

Political ascent

In the months leading up to the legislative elections scheduled for early 2013, Imran Khan and his party garnered substantial support, drawing large crowds at rallies and gaining the endorsement of several seasoned politicians from established parties in Pakistan. The momentum of Imran Khan’s political ascent was further underscored by an opinion poll in 2012, which identified him as the most popular political figure in the country.

However, just days before the legislative elections in May 2013, Imran Khan suffered injuries to his head and back in a fall from a platform during a campaign rally. Despite the setback, he made a televised appeal from his hospital bed, urging voters to support his party. While the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) achieved its highest totals in the elections, it fell short of the number of seats secured by the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz (PML-N), led by Nawaz Sharif. Khan accused the PML-N of election rigging, leading to his calls for an investigation. When those calls went unanswered, Khan and other opposition leaders organized four months of protests in late 2014 to pressure Sharif to resign.

Although the protests did not result in Sharif’s removal, suspicions of corruption heightened after the Panama Papers linked his family to offshore holdings. Imran Khan initiated a new round of protests in late 2016, later calling them off when the Supreme Court agreed to launch an investigation. The investigation led to Sharif’s disqualification from holding public office in 2017, prompting his resignation. Imran Khan, though revealed to have offshore holdings in a separate case, was not disqualified by the Supreme Court.

Elections were held in July 2018, and Imran Khan ran on a platform focused on combating corruption and poverty, despite facing allegations of being too aligned with the military establishment. The PTI secured a plurality of seats in the National Assembly, enabling Khan to form a coalition with independent members of parliament. On August 18, he assumed the role of prime minister.

Premiership

As prime minister, Imran Khan grappled with a mounting balance-of-payments crisis in Pakistan. Despite experiencing economic growth, the country faced challenges due to surging imports and debt commitments, particularly stemming from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative. Early into his term, the crisis was exacerbated when the United States withheld $300 million in promised military aid, citing insufficient efforts by Pakistan to counter-terrorism. Initially seeking foreign aid from “friendly countries,” Khan’s avoidance of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout reflected a public weariness with the IMF.

However, as efforts to secure favorable foreign aid conditions from other nations proved unsuccessful, Pakistan eventually submitted an emergency lending request to the IMF. Khan continued to pursue foreign aid from various sources and secured promises of investments from China, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

In addition to managing economic challenges, Khan oversaw significant developments in Pakistan’s foreign relations. The country successfully facilitated negotiations between the Taliban and the United States, improving ties with both the U.S. and neighbouring Afghanistan. In February 2019, following a suicide attack in Kashmir, India launched an air assault on Pakistan, marking the first such attack in five decades.

While tensions rose, Pakistan took measured steps, to avoid further escalation. After India re-entered Pakistan’s airspace, Pakistan shot down two fighter jets and captured a pilot, later returning the pilot to India. Subsequently, Khan implemented a crackdown on militants, including arrests, closures of religious schools, and commitments to update laws in line with international standards.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 added to Pakistan’s economic woes. Khan faced criticism for a delayed endorsement of a lockdown compared to the prompt actions taken by the opposition-controlled provincial government in Sindh, which implemented a strict lockdown in March. Khan eventually imposed a nationwide lockdown in April, subsequently restricting lockdown measures to localities with high infection rates in May.

Removal from office, subsequent political activity, and imprisonment

Meanwhile, Imran Khan faced persistent opposition due to his close ties with the military establishment, his crackdown on militants, and the precarious state of the economy. In late 2020, major opposition parties formed the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition, aiming to enhance the independence of the civilian government from the military. Protests organized by the PDM accused Khan of being a puppet of the army and called for his resignation. In March 2021, the opposition parties boycotted a vote of confidence initiated by Khan’s government, which he narrowly survived with coalition support. Later that year, Khan fell out with the military establishment after an unsuccessful attempt to influence its top posts.

As frustrations escalated over sustained inflation, the opposition moved in March 2022 to hold its own vote of confidence. Key allies of the PTI withdrew from the ruling coalition, and several party members defected. Khan, facing increasing certainty of removal, alleged a conspiracy by the United States due to his visit to Russian President Vladimir Putin in February following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The leaked contents of a diplomatic cipher indicated U.S. displeasure with Khan’s visit but also suggested the National Assembly had initiated his removal.

The no-confidence vote was held on April 10, making Khan the first prime minister in Pakistan’s history to be ousted through this measure. The economy worsened under the new government led by Shehbaz Sharif and the PML-N. However, the PTI made a surprising comeback, winning 15 of 20 seats in the July 2022 legislative elections in Punjab province.

Despite the electoral success, Khan faced challenges in the aftermath. In August, he was criticized for threatening to sue police officers and a judge in a speech, leading to legal troubles. In October, he was temporarily barred from holding public office, and in November, he was shot in the leg in an apparent assassination attempt during a protest convoy. Khan accused a military officer of responsibility, a claim dismissed by the military.

In May 2023, Khan was taken into custody for non-cooperation in corruption investigations, prompting protests and violence by his supporters. The PTI faced a crackdown, and numerous prominent members defected. In August 2023, Khan was convicted of corrupt practices and sentenced to three years in prison. Despite appealing the decision and gaining a retrial with a suspended conviction, he remained in custody for investigation into revealing classified material in October.

While Khan’s legal challenges seemed to hinder a quick return to office, he continued to advocate for the PTI’s comeback as the February 2024 elections approached. In December 2023, the PTI sparked controversy by using artificial intelligence to deliver a speech written by Khan behind bars. Shortly afterward, Khan declared his intention to run for the National Assembly in three constituencies, hoping for ballot inclusion through the appeals process.

You May Also Like:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *