On a stage high above a hockey stadium to the north of Lahore, a compere shrieks into the microphone. Supporters of Imran Khan clamber onto rows of chairs. Then the 65-year-old cricket legend steps forward. With a general election due to be held on Wednesday, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is just a bat swing away from a victory he has pursued relentlessly since relinquishing a glamorous London lifestyle of celebrity and nightclubs more than 20 years ago. “This is an opportunity to change Pakistan,” he tells an 8,000-strong crowd in the poor suburb of Shahdara, as moths collide with high-powered floodlights. “You will not have it again and again.” Merchants inside the stadium cash in on Khan’s celebrity with T-shirts, phone covers and flags decorated with the craggily handsome features of the “Captain” who led Pakistan to victory at the 1992 cricket World Cup. But it is his promise to end corruption that has transformed the … [Read more...] about Imran Khan near victory in Pakistan election but some ask if he is playing fair
Imran Khan steps to the podium above a swirl of red and green flags, raises his arms and begins his trademark tirade against the crimes of Pakistan's corrupt ruling elite. The country's woes are due to traitorous political leaders who have salted away huge sums overseas while at the same time abandoning the people of Pakistan, the cricketer-turned-politician declares. Promising a cleaner government, better justice and a welfare state, he vows to give the floodlit thousands gathered on a sweaty night in Lahore a new Pakistan. The 65-year-old, who won adulation for leading the 1992 World Cup winning side, has long been espousing his anti-corruption message while until now showing little sign of... To continue reading this article Start your free trial of Premium Access all Premium articles Subscriber-only events Cancel any time Free for 30 days then only £2 per week Try Premium Access one Premium article per week Register for free … [Read more...] about Imran Khan’s anti-corruption fight powers into final election push
Imran Khan has been accused of risking bloodshed for electoral gain after the former cricketer-turned-politician offered a full-throated defence of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws in the run-up to the general election on 25 July. “We are standing with Article 295c and will defend it,” said the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at a gathering of Muslim leaders in Islamabad on Saturday, referring to the clause of the constitution that mandates the death penalty for any “imputation, insinuation or innuendo” against the prophet Muhammad. Khan, 65, also directed anger at the rival party in the electoral race, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), by resurfacing controversy over its hastily withdrawn edits to an electoral oath last year, which Islamists deem blasphemous. Few politicians dare to speak out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws: the last to prominently do so, Sen Salmaan Taseer, was assassinated in 2011, and a new political party … [Read more...] about Imran Khan criticised for defence of Pakistan blasphemy laws
Outside a samosa stall in Lahore, the home town of Imran Khan, a group of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters put down their forks to recall the glories of the 1992 Cricket World Cup, when the final wicket fell like a matchstick before the fast bowling of the team captain. “He was like a tiger,” says Imran Raja, who remembers the final. “I watch it all the time on YouTube,” chips in 21-year-old Hassan, mourning that he was not alive to see Khan lift the trophy. On 25 July, Pakistan holds a general election in which Khan, who founded the PTI in 1996 and goes by the nickname Captain, stands a good chance of a still more significant victory. Posters bearing the party logo, a bat and ball, deck the streets of Lahore. In language typical of a 65-year-old who has transferred boundless energy to the electoral field, Khan warned party workers “not to stop until the final ball” at a gathering in the city on Thursday. Although polls show the Pakistan … [Read more...] about Imran Khan starts race to lead Pakistan but can he please the ‘umpires’?
A tell-all memoir by Imran Khan’s second wife is causing uproar in Pakistan and threatens to derail the former cricketer’s campaign to be elected prime minister next month. Reham Khan, 45, a journalist, married the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chairman in 2015 but the couple divorced less than a year later. She has said the book will reveal details about their marriage and the inner workings of Pakistani politics. Reham claims to have been harassed for months by members of her former husband’s party seeking to scupper the release, which PTI officials claimed was part of a ploy by Imran’s rivals to ruin his hopes of winning the national elections scheduled for 25 July. Purported extracts of the book, which Reham says were stolen by hackers, were leaked to the Pakistan media this week, leading the author to seek an injunction to prevent further releases. Some of those allegedly mentioned in the book have sought legal action to permanently block its … [Read more...] about Tell-all memoir ‘risks derailing’ Imran Khan election hopes