The Captain who won an election

Imran Khan

New Delhi (NM Bureau): Pakistani cricket captain turned politician Imran Khan claimed victory Thursday in the country's tense general election amid accusations of wide range of vote-rigging levelled by rival parties. There was no official confirmation of results from Pakistan's election commission almost 24 hours after polls closed in Wednesday's vote but partial, unofficial tallies showed Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is enjoying a clear lead.


“We were successful and we were given a mandate," Khan, 65, said during a live broadcast after the results.The Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaaf (PTI), translated as Pakistan movement for justice was launched by cricketing legend and national hero Imran Khan in 1996 on the hopes that he would change the face of Pakistani politics by rooting out corruption from its ranks. He had already retired from cricket by then. Post cricket, khan took over a Pashtun identity and Islamic piety to help him with a better political identity.


Even before the launch of the political party, Khan considerably changed his image from flamboyance to pro-people when he raised funds to build a cancer hospital in Lahore in 1994 after his mother’s death by the disease. 

Khan’s image of Islamic piety is a surprise to many as he was seen more as an anglicised Pakistani during his cricketing days.He was educated in English medium institutions in Pakistan and then furthered his education with a degree from Oxford. After embracing politics, Khan famously said a free Pakistan, he believed, had to be rooted in the traditions of Islam.

He is a Pathan of Afghan origins. Imran Khan soon became the crusader against corruption and almost a sympathiser of the Taliban. It was his crusade against corruption that elevated him to the centerstage of Pakistani politics. In Pakistan’s circuit of elites, Khan is often referred to as ‘Taliban Khan’. In 2012, Khan pulled out of the India Today Conclave in Delhi on account of it being attended by writer Salman Rushdie. In turn, Rushdie compared him to Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi.


Imran Khan’s party badly lost in the 1996 elections but in the general elections of 2002 the PTI contested the elections and did well. In the elections in 2013, PTI came out in full form and emerged as the second largest party after Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League.

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