Depending on your age, you’re likely to view Imran Khan in one of two ways: For the younger generation, he’s the new Prime Minister of Pakistan and the leader of the ruling PTI party. As such, his job is to steer the country both politically and economically.
For those whose memories stretch back a little longer, there are fond recollections of Imran Khan on the sports field. As a world class international cricketer, Imran Khan was an inspirational leader of the Pakistani national team and he’ll be certainly using those same inspiring qualities in his current role.
Path to Rule
Imran Khan’s cricketing career ended in 1992 and he soon turned an interest in national politics into an active concern. Four years later, in 1996, he founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and installed himself as its leader. Commonly abbreviated to PTI, the title literally translates as Pakistan Movement for Justice.
Progression was solid for Imran: In 2002 he battled for a seat in Pakistan’s National Assembly and served in the region of Mianwali until 2007. By 2013, things had changed dramatically and as he was voted into parliament once again, Imran Khan’s PTI party had become the second largest in the country. The route to power had therefore been paved and by 2018, Imran became the nation’s Prime Minister. In terms of politics, it was a rapid rise but it’s not likely to have taken the man himself by surprise.
Imran’s career statistics show that he was among the best all-rounders in world cricket to have ever played the game. The former Pakistani skipper played at a time when cricket gave us the likes of Ian Botham, Kapil Dev and Sir Richard Hadlee but for many, Imran was at the top of that particular tree.
In 88 test matches for Pakistan, Imran averaged a respectable 37.69 with the bat and returned six centuries but it was his exploits with the ball that made him a fearsome competitor. In those same 88 tests, he took 362 wickets with a best of 8/58 and a highly impressive average of 22.81. His individual stats in ODI (One Day International) cricket were comparable but Imran Khan will be remembered mainly for his leadership of that mercurial Pakistani side of the 1980s and early 1990s.
His respected captaincy of this team culminated in what many still feel to be Pakistan’s finest moment on the cricket field. The 1992 World Cup started slowly for Imran’s team and had it not been for a weather intervention, they are likely to have been eliminated ahead of the knockout stages. As the tournament developed, however, they gathered momentum and made it all the way to the final where they faced old rivals England.
England started the match as favourites and with Pakistan in trouble at 24/2, it looked as if they would deliver on their perceived greater quality. But it was Imran Khan who turned the game around, scoring 72 from 110 balls as Pakistan posted a target of 249/6.
Imran only took one wicket with the ball and was quite expensive but it was perhaps surprising that he didn’t earn the Man of the Match award. That accolade went to Wasim Akram as his side won by 22 runs but for many, it was Imran’s batting by example and his inspirational leadership that saw Pakistan take their first ever World Title in the 50 over format.
For those of us who watched the Pakistani cricket teams of the 1970’s, 80s and 90s from afar, we felt that there was huge talent in the side. There were also some volatile times and the team liked nothing better than to excel against true rivals such as England and Australia.
Through it all, it seemed at the time as though Imran Khan was in full control of his emotions: He could be extremely passionate when required but also displayed essential calmness while others around him were losing their focus. From a distance, they would seem to be ideal qualities for anyone pursuing a political career and together with his natural charisma, Imran is using them to drive Pakistan forward during an important period in their history.
Recently, Prime Minister Khan had been meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman. Among the many items on the agenda is the Saudis’ ongoing relationship within the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project. So far, Saudi Arabia are committed to Pakistan they announcing the building a multi billion dollar oil city in the strategic port of Gwadar and are therefore heavily invested in the region. Prime Minister Khan has the country behind him and if persuasive personalities can play a part in modern day politics, the relationship with the Saudis and the future of Pakistan should be highly productive one.