Destined to lead and change
Imran Khan has lived with his passion: Be it the life of a celebrity, a captain or a fund-raiser. His skills are now up for test as he reincarnates a 'New Pakistan' Imran Khan has lived with his passion: Be it the life of a celebrity, a captain or a fund-raiser. His skills are now up for test as he reincarnates a 'New Pakistan'
Imran Khan is victorious on and off the field. The Prime-Minister in waiting is the new sensation of Pakistan. He has orchestrated a new philosophy and, moreover, a new constituency in an otherwise feudalistic-conservative society by empowering the youth.
His vision of 'New Pakistan', popularly known as Naya Pakistan, has galvanised people from all walks of life to rally behind him, and the success at polls is a case in point.
The cricketer-turned-politician is the hope of Pakistan, as even his die-hard critics trust his wisdom to deliver on the promise of transparent and accountable governance by virtue of his honesty. This impression is his most significant plus point, and he has to walk the talk to make it happen.
The all-rounder is poised with an opportunity to lead the nation at a critical stage of its existence. This time he will be in the driving seat of power politics. He should deliver on good governance and ultimately realise his dream to fight corruption.
Pakistan with its youthful population of more than 200 million, 65 per cent of which are under 30, poses a gigantic task for the incumbent prime minister. They are, in fact, his real strength. He has to stand tall and firm to fight endemic poverty, inequality, corruption and illiteracy.
And Captain Imran Khan knows how to do it. His long-pursued ambition to win the cricket World Cup made him a legend, as he lifted the crystal ball at Melbourne in 1992, after staging a comeback from initial routs. He has to do that again as a statesman and politician.
His manifesto for 'change' has made an immense impact on the political landscape of Pakistan. Almost all of the political parties had to bite the dust, as they couldn't afford to contest his genuine call for change. The slogan 'Naya Pakistan' became a heartthrob, and irrespective of the fact that his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founded in 1996, had a handful of seasoned politicians in its midst, the vote came for Imran Khan and his charismatic appeal.
Now is the time to live up to the expectations of the nation, and carve out a 'New Pakistan' that is free from corruption, where economic stability is ordained, political culture is one of co-existence, and merit and the rule of law are indispensable in a rejuvenated and empowered state. A Pakistan that the Founding Fathers dreamt of.
Khan's rise to power is an outcome of his 22 years of political struggle. He had faith in him and his nation, as he is liberal to the core and had always dreamt of an egalitarian state, where its subjects - the people - are well taken care of. He has lived with his passions and dreams. Be it making the cricket team invincible and victorious on the global stage or building a state-of-the-art cancer hospital in a resource-starved country like Pakistan, Imran has never gone back on his commitment.
The Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre, a chain of research-oriented tertiary level oncology hospitals in Lahore and Peshawar, is a feather in his cap. So is the first private international university in one of the remotest tribal belts of Pakistan, which he funded at his behest.
The passion with which he built the dream hospital in his mother's name, even at times raising charity by standing on the streets, speaks of his resilience. Through his leadership and appeal, he was able to win beside him the who's who of the rich and the powerful for donating to his hospital. They comprised of Princess Diana to legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, as well as cine screen celebrities from the Bollywood, who were overwhelmed to be part of the fund-raising programme.
Now Imran Khan as Prime Minister of Pakistan has a tightrope to walk. His conciliatory victory speech has already won him laurels. His austerity drive is an all-time favourite. For Imran, the bottom line should be deliverance: as he comes high on the spheres of fame and fortune. He should strive to end exploitation and ensure a society based on honesty, merit and integrity, as that will be his ultimate political capital.
Though his immediate concern will be an economy in shambles, which is imploding under rising debt, he cannot afford to turn away from regional and international challenges. Betterment of relations with the neighbours is a must, and Imran will be closely watched on his India and Afghanistan policy. As Imran is a celebrity in India as well, and has a huge fan following and knows its social fabric closely, he has an opportunity to mend fences and address bilateral irritants once and for all.
As he himself says he will be judged for his actions, and has pledged to empower national institutions and eradicate corruption from the body politick by freeing them from political interference, his erstwhile sportsmanship spirit will be once again up for the test. He has no room to fail, as the nation has entrusted him with its mandate. It's the captain's moment to look ahead, and never look back.