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Imran Khan, a leader whose career as a cricketer eclipsed his political career

Imran Khan was removed from his post as Pakistani Prime Minister on Sunday.


Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who turned his shaky side into champions at the 1992 Cricket World Cup, failed to repeat the same charisma in politics where he was ousted by a determined opposition in the middle of his first innings.

Mr Khan, who effectively lost a majority in the 342-member National Assembly, dissolved parliament and called for new elections on April 3 after the deputy president blocked a no-confidence motion against him.

However, a five-member bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial in a historic 5-0 verdict on April 7 overturned the vice president’s decision and ordered the president to convene a session on April 9. April to organize the non-vote of confidence.

Mr Khan has failed his toughest political test since taking office in 2018 due to defections from his party and cracks in the ruling coalition. He is the first Prime Minister of Pakistan whose fate was decided by a vote of confidence.

The Oxford-educated Pasthun came to power in 2018 with the promise of creating a “Naya Pakistan”, but failed miserably to solve the fundamental problem of controlling commodity prices.

Mr Khan has apparently also lost the support of the mighty military after refusing to endorse the appointment of the head of the ISI spy agency last year. He eventually agreed, but it soured his ties to the military, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-year existence and has so far wielded considerable power in security and foreign policy.

Mr Khan, whose 21-year-old cricketing career eclipsed his 26-year political journey, treated nearly all opposition leaders with disdain, often using derogatory remarks towards them while in power, their giving a reason to unite under one banner and successfully overthrow his government.

The last time Mr Khan asked for a vote of confidence, he comfortably won it after an embarrassing defeat in a hotly contested Senate election in March 2021.

Mr Khan launched Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which means movement for justice, in 1996, but struggled to break the dominance of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP ) – the two main political parties of the parties that were in power several times when the army did not rule the country.

Unable to break the dominance of the PML-N and the PPP for years, he even once said, “In Pakistan, politics is hereditary”, referring to the leaders of the PML-N and PPP parties who are respectively led by the Sharif family and the Bhutto family.

Mr Khan became an MP in 2002. He was again elected to the National Assembly in 2013.

A year after the elections, in May 2014, Mr Khan claimed the polls had been rigged in favor of the ruling PML-N, led by then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In August 2014, Mr Khan led a rally of his Lahore supporters in Islamabad, demanding Sharif’s resignation and an investigation into alleged voter fraud.

Imran Khan led his party to victory in the 2018 general elections in which he promised to crack down on corruption, implement programs to fight poverty, improve health care and education and make his country an Islamic welfare state.

While in power, Imran Khan repeatedly spoke of making Pakistan an Islamic welfare state. However, it failed to address economics and the fundamental problem of controlling commodity prices.

On the foreign policy front, Mr. Khan had frosty relations with the West, particularly the United States. Khan has tried to cultivate close ties with Russia while strengthening ties with all-time ally China.

During his tenure, ties between Pakistan and India were further strained in 2019 when a Pakistan-based terror group killed 40 CRPF members in a suicide bombing in February, forcing India to bomb the terrorist camps of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

An intense aerial confrontation ensued between the two countries the following day, in which Indian Air Force Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was captured and later released by Pakistan.

Relations deteriorated after India announced the withdrawal of special powers from Jammu and Kashmir and the splitting of the state into two union territories in August 2019.

Imran Khan, who insists the Kashmir dispute remained a big issue between the two countries, raised the issue in several forums including the United Nations during his tenure.

India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and will forever remain” an integral part of the country.

Later in 2019, Prime Minister Khan officially opened the Kartarpur Corridor, paving the way for Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit one of their religion’s holiest sites in Pakistan without the need for a visa.

Mr Khan, once touted as Pakistan’s most eligible bachelor for his rugged Pathani good looks, has been married three times. His two previous marriages ended in divorce.

His first marriage was to Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of a British billionaire, in 1995, which lasted 9 years. Khan has two sons by her. Her second marriage to TV presenter Reham Khan in 2015 ended after a brief 10 month spell.

In 2018, Khan married for the third time. This time with his “spiritual guide” Bushra Maneka.

Imran Khan was born in Mianwali in 1952 to Ikramullah Khan Niazi and Shaukat Khanum. His father is from the Pashtun Niazi tribe of the Shermankhel clan.

He attended Aitchison College in Lahore and the Royal Grammar School Worcester in England.

Imran Khan played Test cricket for Pakistan between 1971 and 1992 and captained the national side when they won the World Cup in 1992 – the country’s first and only victory in the tournament.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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