The Indian who predicted 26 years ago that Imran Khan would be PM one day
Imran Khan’s short speech after winning the World Cup for Pakistan in 1992 made the father of a Bollywood actor say, “ye banda pakka ek din Pakistan ka PM banega”
Back in the 1980s, when the cricketing world were awestuck by batsmen of the calibre of Allan Border, Desmond Haynes and Richard Hadlee among others, a Pakistani all-rounder would regularly dislodge their wickets with his fast, fearsome in-swingers. How impressive he was is borne out by the fact that between 1981 and 1990, the Pakistani great picked up as many as 18 five-wicket hauls in just 55 test matches he played in that decade. In those 55 matches, he also averaged over 44 with the bat. Imran Khan, in simple terms, owned the cricket world in the 80s. He was one of the most established all-rounders of the generation.
But it was in 1992 when he led Pakistan to their first and only World Cup that his victory-speech, remembers Bollywood actor Ayushmann Khurrana, made senior Khurrana predict that “ye banda pakka ek din Pakistan ka PM banega” (This man for sure will be the Prime Minister of Pakistan one day). Twenty-six years later, he was delivering another victory speech, this time after making sure that he would be the 19th Prime Minister of Pakistan.
After leading Pakistan to a victory over England in the 1992 World Cup final, Khan in less than minute long speech had said; “I would just like to give my congratulations to the English team. But I want them to know that by winning this World Cup, one of my greatest obsession in life, which is to build a cancer hospital, I am sure this World Cup will go a long way towards completion of this obsession.”
He indeed built Pakistan’s largest cancer hospital when the doors to Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre was opened on 29 December 1994.
“Whenever he decides to do something, he does it. Imran never leaves an unfinished piece of work,” Zaheer Abbas, Imran’s former team-mate, who also used to share room with the former Pakistan captain, said in an interview with the Telegraph.
In 2018, Imran Khan’s PTI got the people’s mandate in Pakistan on his promise of “Naya Pakistan”. Zaheer Abbas feels “eyes of not just all in Pakistan, but the subcontinent are on Imran”. “'Naya Pakistan' is an idea which went down very well with the electorate,” Abbas told the Telegraph. Now, accoding to Abbas, “setting the economy right” remains biggest challenge for Khan.
Imran Khan, however, is as well known for courting controversies as for his dreaded in-swingers and his deadly fast bowling. Be it on the cricket field, personal life or the political turf, the newly elected Pakistani Wazir-e-Azam has been a controversial figure.
Political controversies and the 2018 election
It has been widely alleged that Khan’s political outfit PTI had the military’s backing and his victory has also been credited to Pakistani military support. A cartoon by Peter Brookes for The Times says in a picture what reports from around the globe are alleging:
But the newly elected Prime Minister, when the reports of him being an “Army Stooge” had started to emerge, had said in one of his political rallies in the build up to the elections,“Imran Khan kisi ka putla nahi ho sakta” (Imran Khan can never be anybody’s stooge).
He has come to power with a promise of “Naya Pakistan” which he promised is going to be corruption free, free of unemployment crisis and set an example of a prosperous country. Now, whether he turns out to be a stooge as alleged by many political analysts or whether he delivers on his promises remains to be seen.
One of the staunchest allegation on Khan is that he is a ‘womaniser’ and a ‘sex addict’. But controversies are nothing new for him, as he was heavily criticised after admitting to seam-lifting Test matches and tampering the ball in county cricket in 1994. On the personal front, the cricketer who is remembered by veteran journalist Shahid Siddiqui as “the heartthrob of girls” world over, has been alleged of several scandals apart from his three marriages. His first wife Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of a British Billionaire left him after nine years of married relationship. His second marriage not only lasted for just 10 months, but it also brought Khan a series of allegations in a tell-all book by his ex-wife Reham Khan.
Days before the polls in Pakistan, Reham Khan’s book not only portrayed the new Pakistan Prime Minister as a sex starved leader and a drug addict, but also claimed that the former cricket has “five illegitimate children”, some of them Indians.
In fact, with women, he has been accused several times of harassment. In 2017, a woman leader from his party PTI alleged that “honour of women in PTI was not safe”. Before the results were declared, CNN predicted in an opinion piece that if the former cricketer’s party wins the election, “the women of that nation may face a disastrous era of gender discrimination and repression.”
But a veteran cricket analyst and friends with Imran Khan for “good 40 years”, Kishore Bhimani had defended Imran Khan when Reham Khan’s book was launched saying, “it’s ridiculous to make such severe accusations”. “I’m looking at cricket to produce such gentlemen again, I’m looking at the sub-continent to produce such a nice human being,” Bhimani had said talking to a Pakistani news channel.