Imran Khan, cricket star turned Pakistan premier, is ousted


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ISLAMABAD, April 10 – Imran Khan was ousted as Pakistan’s prime minister on Sunday after a no-confidence motion in parliament prematurely ended a term marked by a deteriorating economy and indicated that he had The mighty army has lost its confidence.

The defections from his alliance reflected the growing disillusionment among many Pakistanis over high inflation, mounting deficits and the belief that Khan had failed to deliver on the promises of his campaign to end corruption.

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However, he is unlikely to disappear completely from the political scene.

After the Supreme Court overturned his decision to dissolve Parliament and ordered MPs to return to the lower house, an aide called the move a judicial coup and Khan said he would continue to fight “till the last ball”.

The 69-year-old joins a long list of elected Pakistani prime ministers who have failed to live up to their full terms; No one has done this since independence in 1947.

In 2018, the cricket legend who led Pakistan to its only World Cup win in 1992, rallied the country behind his vision of a corruption-free, prosperous country respected on the world stage.

But the fame and charisma of the flamboyant nationalist were not enough to keep him in power.

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Ironically, for a politician once criticized under the thumb of the powerful military establishment, his removal comes amid signs of a deteriorating relationship between him and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The military, which has played a major role in Pakistan, ruling the country for nearly half its history and gaining control of some of its largest economic institutions, has said it remains neutral to politics.

At a rally last month, as he was fighting for his political survival, Khan was widely seen referring to the situation when he said: “Only animals remain neutral.”

Leader of the Opposition and former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said, “They (army) don’t want to be seen supporting them and they should be blamed for their failures.” “They have pulled their support.”

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lofty promises

Handsome and charismatic, Khan first caught the world’s attention in the early 1970s as an aggressive fast-pacer with a distinctive leap.

He went on to become one of the world’s best all-rounders and a hero in cricket-crazy Pakistan, and captained a team of wayward stars to victory in 1992 from bleak prospects, urging his players to fight the famous war cry “Fangs like tigers.”

After retiring from cricket that year, he spent $25 million to open a cancer hospital in his mother’s memory, before entering politics with the founding of his Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice. Collected and known for philanthropy. Party in 1996.

Despite his fame, PTI remained steeped in the political jungle of Pakistan for 17 years, not winning a seat other than Khan’s.

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However, this period had its dramatic moments. In 2007, Khan was put under house arrest by jumping over a wall, amid crackdown on opposition figures by the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.

In 2011, Khan began to attract huge crowds of young Pakistanis, disillusioned with endemic corruption, chronic power shortages and crises of education and unemployment.

He gained even more support in the years to come, with educated Pakistani expatriates quitting their jobs to work for his party and joining pop musicians and actors on the campaign trail.

His goal, Khan told a gathering of hundreds of thousands of supporters in 2018, was to transform Pakistan from a country of “small agglomerations of the rich and a sea of ​​the poor” to “an example for the humane order, a just system”. world, what an Islamic welfare state.”

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That year he was victorious for a long time, marking a rare ascent by a sports hero to the pinnacle of politics. However, observers cautioned that his greatest enemy was his own rhetoric, skyrocketing supporters’ hopes.

Playboy for the Reformer

Born in 1952, Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, the son of a civil engineer, described himself as a shy child who grew up with four sisters in an affluent urban Pashtun family in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city.

After a privileged education in Lahore, during which his cricketing skills became evident, he went to Oxford University where he graduated with degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.

As his cricketing career flourished, he developed the reputation of a playboy in London in the late 1970s.

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In 1995, he married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of business tycoon James Goldsmith. The couple, who had two sons together, divorced in 2004. A second brief marriage to TV journalist Reham Nayyar Khan also ended in divorce.

His third marriage to Bushra Bibi, a spiritual leader whom Khan had known during his visits to a 13th-century pilgrimage site in Pakistan, reflects his keen interest in Sufism – a form of Islamic practice that seeks spiritual closeness with God. emphasizes.

Once in power, Khan began his plans for the creation of a “welfare” state, which he said was an ideal system in the Islamic world some 14 centuries ago.

His government made many key appointments on the basis of merit, not political favors, and sought reforms in the bureaucracy and recruitment in the civil service.

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Other measures include making it easier for citizens to register complaints and introducing universal healthcare for the poor in a province, with plans to expand the program nationally. The government also launched a project to plant 10 billion trees to reverse decades of deforestation.

To bolster a crippled economy, Khan made a significant U-turn in policy and secured an IMF bailout for Pakistan and set lofty targets to expand tax collections.

But his anti-corruption campaign was heavily criticized as a tool to sideline political opponents – many of whom were jailed for corruption.

Pakistan’s generals also remained powerful and retired and serving military officers were placed in charge of more than a dozen civilian institutions.

(Written by Alasdair Pal and Mike Collette-White; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Nick McPhee and Mike Collette-White)

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