NEW YORK - Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf party is enjoying broader support today than in the 2013 election boosting its chances in the upcoming polls, according to a dispatch in American mass-circulation Time magazine.
“The world once knew Khan as the Oxford-educated playboy who captained Pakistan to its only Cricket World Cup victory, in 1992, and married British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, a close friend of Princess Diana’s. But after two decades in his country’s turbulent political arena, Khan, 65, has a real shot at running the country, ” Time Correspondent Time Charlie Campbell, wrote from Islamabad in the latest issue. At the same time, the dispatch pointed to a Gallup poll in May that gave former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party a 13-point lead over the PTI.
But correspondent Campbell quoted Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Washington-based Woodrow Wilson Center, a think-tank, as saying, “PTI will certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the election. (Imran) Khan has been able to project himself, accurately in my view, as an incorruptible new type of politician who doesn’t have ties to special interests.”
The dispatch said, “Khan also takes solace in the fact that opinion polls can be misleading“ as the U.S. discovered in 2016 (When President Donald Trump won the election).
“….his showbiz charisma and his volcanic use of social media have drawn comparisons with the current occupant of the White House.”
Imran Khan was asked by the writer: Is he simply a Pakistani Trump? “Compare me to Bernie Sanders,” Khan replied, laughingly, of the the American socialist politician who was also a presidential candidate in 2016 but later withdrew in favour of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “I’m the opposite of Donald Trump,” Imran Khan asserted in his response. According to the dispatch, “Riding a wave of social-media outrage, he successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to disqualify Sharif from politics. ”
“It’s a big victory,” Khan was quoted as saying. “But the struggle is now on. The corrupt political elite is trying to protect itself. We have hit rock bottom. The poor are getting poorer, and a tiny number of people are getting richer.”
In his report, correspondent Campbell cited President Trump’s first tweet of 2018 decrying the $33 billion in aid to Pakistan, and also equating Muslims with terrorists and successfully banning citizens of five Muslim-majority nations from traveling to the U.S. “I found him very offensive, humiliating and just clueless about Islam,” Khan was quoted as saying about Trump. “But he did something worse: he took the lid off the Islamophobia, and it became a free-for-all.”
Despite his antipathy to long-standing U.S. policies, the dispatch said Khan insisted he is “not anti-American.” He called Pakistan’s burgeoning ties with China “a great opportunity.” In the dispatch, correspondent Campbell also said, “The greatest obstacle to Khan’s political career has perhaps been his personal life. After nine years of marriage, he and Jemima Khan “who had converted to Islam for their wedding“divorced in 2004. (The couple’s two sons live in London with their mother.) Khan’s second marriage, to British-Pakistani journalist Reham Khan, in 2015 lasted only months. In February, he married his ‘spiritual guide,’ Bushra Maneka.”
“Khan may have spent his earlier years carousing with supermodels under the paparazzi glare of London’s nightclubs, but the debonair playboy has had to grow up.” Khan was quoted as saying. “In England, it’s a piece of cake. In America, it’s pretty easy. But here you are up against mafias. There is physical danger.” About what a victory for Khan might mean for U.S. security interests, Khan said, “The roots of all terrorist movements are in politics, never in religion.”
But the dispatch said many have criticized him for not being tough enough on the Pakistan Taliban, and critics even nicknamed him Taliban Khan, while pointing out that he has been calling for talks with the militant group despite their terrorist acts.
“But for Khan,” according to the dispatch, “his nation’s role in the U.S.-led Afghanistan war has been a disaster that has cost 70,000 Pakistani lives, weakened the domestic security situation and ripped more than $100 billion from the economy.”