From Kaptaan to Prime Minister: The Road Taken and the Road Ahead

From Kaptaan to Prime Minister: The Road Taken and the Road Ahead
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Rayees Masroor

Imran Khan became a household name in the subcontinent after he led his country to win the biggest honour in world cricket in the form of 1992 World Cup. He took over the captaincy of the Pakistan team in 1982 and, under his charge, the country became, arguably the best side in the world, alongside West Indies. The two sides went head-to-head three times with Imran as captain, with each of the series drawn 1-1. Moreover, Imran was acknowledged as a key mentor to a number of young, exciting players who developed around him, including the likes of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

For most the time that could be called his era, from the time he made his international debut in 1971 to that World Cup win two decades later, he was recognized as one of the world’s greatest all-rounders. As a player he transformed himself repeatedly but at his peak, from the end of 1977 to 1982-83, he was as quick and effective as any fast bowler in the world. As a batsman, he blossomed late but operated from a sound enough base to be versatile in any given situation and any position. Imran Khan had more or less disassociated himself from the game over the past 15 years or so, making only the occasional appearance as a TV analyst.

He then took up the challenge of being a philanthropist and made a great contribution by building two cancer hospitals and much more. As they say, great people have great vision and Imran had all those ingredients that are needed to be a charismatic leader. He chose politics and founded Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf (PTI) in 1996. To begin with , his party began slowly as it was not easy for a new born party to find its feet amid seasoned and established parties like the PPP and PML-N but to his credit Imran remained committed and steadfast like he always did in the cricket field. He was able to form the government in one province in the last general elections but was very much lagging behind at the national level.

Imran worked really hard as if he knew what lay in store after the 2018 general elections. He was able to mobilize youth across Pakistan and on top of that with Nawaz Sharief behind the bars it became a cake walk for the Kaptaan. With the announcement of the official results, Imran Khan and his party are all set to form the new government. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the country, securing a simple majority in the National Assembly.

A total of 137 seats are required to form the central government, and so far the PTI is the closest to that number with a very wide margin, However very much like the 1992 Pakistan team, Imran has a difficult road ahead; he has to overcome many challenges in the economic sector as well as at the political front.PTI might have difficult times ahead because of a fiery opposition, which is not ready to accept the electoral results as of now. Imran Khan and his party need to develop a working relationship with the opposition parties, the judiciary, and more importantly, the military. The PTI chief now needs to play the role of a mature and patriotic politician.

The geopolitics of the region also demands that Pakistan have close ties with its all weather friend China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UAE. The Kaptaan led new government also needs to thoroughly review its stranded relationship with the United States because Pakistan can’t afford to continue with prolonged hostility with the country. Imran also has to make efforts to mend its ties with Its all important neighbor India and Afghanistan (the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan lies suspended for a while now while as the Pak Afghan ties are at their lowest ebb).

The new PTI led government will urgently need to deal with a mounting economic crisis. Four currency devaluations since December have made it likely they will seek another International Monetary Fund bailout. High inflation is already squeezing the people high and dry as Pakistan’s benchmark stock index rose as much as 1.9 percent. The road to Naya Pakistan won’t be easy but often difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations. To his credit, Imran Khan said he would set a personal example of austerity and offer himself for accountability so that a corruption-free society could be realized and vowed policies to pull the poor out of the poverty trap. He also said he would strive to have harmonious relations with all neighbors. The overall scenario seems to be very difficult but those who believe in the charisma and capabilities of the world cup winning captain always have the firm belief that Kaptaan would lead his country to stability and prosperity. Whether he succeeds or not remains to be seen. Fingers crossed!

The author can be reached at: rayeesmasroor111@gmail.com

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