Former Cricketer Imran Khan Becomes PM of Pakistan, Takes Oath Today
The leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former cricketer Imran Khan took oath as the 22nd Prime Minister of Pakistan, today. The heavily outspoken politician is the first international cricket player to become a Prime Minister.
His party dominated the 2018 General elections in Pakistan, winning 116 seats out of 342 in the 15th National Assembly, with the tally increasing to 158 on including the allied independent candidates and the reserved seats for women and minorities.
The man who led Pakistan to its one and only World Cup win in 1992, Khan’s journey to political victory, in contrast, has been a long struggle, amidst various controversies including allegedly rigging the 2018 general elections.
Khan’s political journey
As captain of the Pakistan cricket team, Khan was extremely popular, both for his cricket prowess and his infamous image as a playboy. However, he struggled to turn that popularity into electoral support. This is the first time in his 22-year-long political strife when his party won the Assembly seats with such clear distinction.
His first attempt during the 1997 general elections yielded no results, followed by a single victory in the Mianwali constituency by Khan himself in 2002. PTI boycotted the 2008 elections as part of the All Parties Democratic Movement in opposition against General Pervez Musharraf’s military rule in Pakistan.
PTI turned out to be the second most popular party during the 2013 elections, with political rival and leader of PML-N, Nawaz Sharif serving as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. As leader of the opposition, he led many anti-corruption campaigns, including the Panama Papers scandal that led to the incarceration of Sharif and his daughter Mariam.
The 2018 General Elections
There were three main parties contesting the 2018 elections- Khan’s PTI, Shahbaz Sharif-led PML-N, and Bilawal Bhutto led Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Khan became the first person in the history of Pakistan to contest from five constituencies and win all five.
According to Al Jazeera, members of the National Assembly voted for Khan to be the leader of the house, with 176 votes, followed by Shahbaz Sharif who received only 96.
Calling it the worst rigging of the century, the president of PML-N Shahbaz Sharif demanded that a Parliamentary committee be constituted to investigate the election process.
Support from the Military and Taliban
Khan has been surrounded with claims of having connections to the military and the Taliban, most recent being Subramanian Swamy’s comment about Khan being a puppet of the military.
These allegations suggest that it’s through the military’s support that he’s won the 2018 elections.
According to the Indian Express, Khan is also known to have openly supported the Taliban in Afghanistan, hailing the organisation as one that’s fighting a holy war. This has earned him the nickname of Taliban Khan by the opposition.
Khan has maintained throughout his electoral campaign that he will rebuild Pakistan anew, vowing to eradicate corruption from the country and improving upon its infrastructure. His stand on foreign policies, however, have raised questions.
Having expressed his strong desire to resolve the Kashmir situation many times, he has urged to stop the blame game between the two countries, and resolve the dispute by restarting the dialogue between the nations. “If they [India] take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least (we) need a start,” said Khan, as reported by the Hindu.
While the former CM of Jammu and Kashmir Mehbooba Mufti has asked PM Modi to accept the alleged offer of friendship from Khan, Subramanian Swamy warned against such decisions, urging the government to be ready to finish Pakistan swiftly.
Offering his condolences for the death of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Khan asserted that the only way to honour his legacy would be to establish peace on both sides of the border. However, in his victory speech, Khan failed to mention cross-border terrorism, one of the biggest issues our countries must face before we can even begin to talk about peace.
Khan also wants to strengthen its relations with China because of its investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Border, an initiative that is encroaching on Kashmir.
The Logical Indian Take
To this day, there has not been a single PM in the history of Pakistan who has finished their term of service to their country, being shadow ruled by the military throughout its political history. Despite all his outward show of wanting to improve their ties with India, the fact remains that the border between the two countries continues to be marred with the blood of soldiers from both sides every single day.
If renewed peace talks are to become a reality for the two nations, Imran Khan needs to take a clearer and more genuine approach than the one he’s running with now.