ISLAMABAD: Clad in a tracksuit and ankle weights, Imran Khan lounges in a plush chair and announces this is his political moment: the World Cup cricket champion believes power in Pakistan is his for the taking.
After years in the wilderness the former allrounder is riding a wave of populism as rival parties stumble, decrying the venality of PakistanÂ´s political elite and promising an end to rampant corruption if he can win a general election due this year.
Often likened to US President Donald Trump for his populist flair and Twitter tirades, he prefers to draw parallels with former US presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders or British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“It is one of the most ridiculous comparisons,” he sighs, when asked about Trump during an interview with AFP at his hillside home near Islamabad.
But despite once describing a potential meeting with the US president as a “bitter pill”, Khan says he would be prepared to work with Trump to stop the “insanity” in Afghanistan.
“This war will only end through talks,” he says. “The solution does not lie in more bombs and guns.”
In the West, the man who led PakistanÂ´s 1992 World Cup champion cricket team is typically seen through the prism of celebrity, with memories of his headline-grabbing romances and playboy reputation standing out.
Back home, the 65-year-old cuts a more conservative persona as a devout Muslim, often carrying prayer beads and nurturing beliefs in living saints.
To his legions of fans, Khan is uncorrupted and generous, spending his years off the pitch building hospitals and a university.
“(He) deserves a chance over all the other leeches,” says supporter Shahid Khan, a 26-year-old engineer.
But Khan is also described as impulsive and brash, too tolerant of militancy and fostering close links to Islamists, amid speculation over his ties to PakistanÂ´s powerful military establishment.
Source:: The News International – Latest news