Imran Khan: Pakistan’s cricket-playing revolutionary – by David Ignatius

Pakistan must make a settlement with the Taliban and decouple itself from America's wars in Afghanistan and the tribal areas - says Imran Khan.

Pakistani politics these days is something of a feudal system, dominated by a tired collection of old-line parties and politicians — with one notable exception: He’s a charismatic former cricket star named Imran Khan, who talks like a Pakistani Robbespierre.

“Pakistan is like France before the revolution,” he says. “We are at a historical crossroads. We can’t go on this way anymore.”

Drawing Room Revolutionary

Khan makes a lordly revolutionary, presiding over a hilltop estate that overlooks Islamabad. He’s still movie-star handsome at 57, and he discusses politics with the fervor of a man who, in addition to being the top cricketer of his generation, took a degree at Oxford in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

PTI: High-Visibility Flop in Pakistani Politics

Khan formed his political party, the Movement for Justice (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PTI), in 1996, four years after he retired from cricket. Despite his celebrity, the party has been regarded by Pakistani analysts as a high-visibility flop, doing poorly in elections and gaining just one parliamentary seat.

Truce with the Taliban Terrorists

Khan’s radicalism is least convincing when it comes to security issues. He argues that Pakistan must make a settlement with the Taliban and decouple itself from America’s wars in Afghanistan and the tribal areas. When I ask whether this future Pakistan might not be at the mercy of Muslim radicals, as Iran was after its revolution in 1979, Khan insists that the extremists will retreat if they no longer can fulminate against America and its Pakistani “agents.”

Bribe the Military

The cricketer, known for his lightning fast bowling, would certainly topple some wickets if his movement gained momentum. Asked how the Pakistani military would respond to his plans for truce with a terrorist enemy, Khan retorts that what the military needs most is someone who can pay their bills: “I’m the only one who can collect taxes.”

Bleak Future

Khan has been an ephemeral player in Pakistani politics for more than a decade, and he’s unlikely to make a breakthrough now.

Source: Adapted from Washington Post



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