Imran Khan

Imran Khan

Imran Khan Niazi (عمران خان نیازی) (born November 25 1952) is a Pakistani cricketer and politician. Khan played for the Pakistani cricket team from 1971 to 1992, and led them as captain to his country's first and only World Cup victory in 1992. With a record of 3807 runs and 362 wickets in Test cricket, Khan is known as one of the finest all-rounders in the modern history of the game. In April 1996, he founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), a small and marginal political party, of which he is chairman as well as sole ever-elected member of Parliament. He represented Mianwali as a member of the National Assembly from October 2002 to October 2007.

Early life and education

Khan was born to Shaukat Khanum and Ikramullah Khan Niazi, a civil engineer, in Lahore. He grew up as the only son in a family with four sisters. Settled in the province of Punjab, Khan's family descended from the Pashtun, Niazi Shermankhel tribe of Mianwali. His maternal lineage consists of numerous professional cricketers, including Javed Burki and Majid Khan, both of whom captained Pakistan's national team.

Khan started his education at Aitchison College and the Cathedral School in Lahore. After middle school, he left Pakistan to study at the Royal Grammar School in Worcester, United Kingdom, where he excelled at cricket. He then went on to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics as an undergraduate at Keble College, Oxford in 1972, graduating with a second-class degree in Politics and a third in Economics.

Cricket career

Khan made a lacklustre first-class cricket debut at the age of sixteen in Lahore. By the start of the 1970s, he was playing for his home teams of Lahore A (1969-70), Lahore B (1969-70), Lahore Greens (1970-71) and, eventually, Lahore (1970-71). Khan was part of Oxford's Blues Cricket team during the 1973-75 seasons, and captained the University XI in 1974. At Worcestershire, where he played county cricket from 1971 to 1976, he was regarded as only an average medium pace bowler. During this decade, other teams represented by Khan include Dawood Industries (1975-76) and Pakistan International Airlines (1975-76 to 1980-81). From 1983 to 1988, he moved on to play for Sussex.

In 1971, Khan made his Test cricket debut against England at Birmingham. Three years later, he debuted in the One Day International (ODI) match, once again playing against England at Nottingham for the Prudential Trophy. After graduating from Oxford and finishing his tenure at Worcestershire, he returned to Pakistan in 1976 and secured a permanent place on his native national team starting from the 1976-77 season, during which they faced New Zealand and Australia.

Following the Australian series, he toured the West Indies, where he met Tony Greig, who signed him up for Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket. His credentials as one of the fastest bowlers of the world started to establish when he finished third at 139.7 km/h in a fast bowling contest at Perth in 1978, behind Jeff Thomson and Michael Holding, but ahead of Dennis Lillee, Garth Le Roux and Andy Roberts.

Khan achieved the all-rounder's triple (securing 3000 runs and 300 wickets) in 75 Tests, the second fastest record behind Ian Botham's 72. He is also established as having the second highest all-time batting average of 61.86 for a Test batsman playing at position 6 of the batting order. He played his last Test match for Pakistan in January 1992, against Sri Lanka at Faisalabad. His last ODI was the historic 1992 World Cup final against England at Melbourne, Australia, which culminated in the crowning glory of Khan's career.

Khan ended his career with 88 Test matches, 126 innings and scored 3807 runs at an average of 37.69, including six centuries and 18 fifties. His highest score was 136 runs. As a bowler, he took 362 wickets in Test cricket, which made him the first Pakistani and world's fourth bowler to do so. In ODIs, he played 175 matches and scored 3709 runs at an average of 33.41. His highest score remains 102 not out. His best ODI bowling is documented at 6 wickets for 14 runs. Khan retired permanently from cricket six months after the 1992 World Cup, in September.


At the height of his career, in 1982, the thirty-year old Khan took over the captaincy of the Pakistani cricket team from Javed Miandad. In the team's second match under his leadership, Khan led them to their first Test win on English soil for 28 years at Lord's.

Khan's first year as captain was the peak of his legacy as a fast bowler as well as an all-rounder. He recorded the best Test bowling of his career while taking 8 wickets for 58 runs against Sri Lanka at Lahore in 1981-82. He also topped both the bowling and batting averages against England in three Test series in 1982, taking 21 wickets and averaging 56 with the bat. Later the same year, he put up a highly acknowledged performance in a home series against the formidable Indian team by taking 40 wickets in six Tests at an average of 13.95. By the end of this series in 1982-83, Khan had taken 88 wickets in 13 Test matches over a period of one year as captain.

This same Test series against India, however, also resulted in a stress fracture in his shin that kept him out of cricket for more than two years. An experimental treatment funded by the Pakistani government helped him recover by the end of 1984 and he made a successful comeback to international cricket in the latter part of the 1984-85 season.

In 1987, Khan led Pakistan to its first Test series win in India, which was followed by Pakistan's first series victory in England the same year. During the 1980s, his team also recorded three creditable draws against the West Indies. India and Pakistan co-hosted the 1987 World Cup, but neither ventured beyond the semi-finals. Khan retired from international cricket at the end of the World Cup. In 1988, he was asked to return to the captaincy by the President Of Pakistan, General Zia-Ul-Haq, and on January 18, he announced his decision to rejoin the team.

Soon after returning to the captaincy, Khan led Pakistan to another winning tour in the West Indies, which he has recounted as his proudest moment in cricket. He was declared Man of the Series against West Indies in 1988 when he took 23 wickets in 3 tests. He later recalled, "I was 35 and not very fit, we had quite a weak team and then I got 11 wickets in the first Test. That was the last time I really bowled well." As a captain, Khan played 48 Test matches, out of which 14 were won by Pakistan, 8 lost and the rest of 26 were drawn. He also played 139 ODIs, winning 77, losing 57 and ending one in a tie.

World Cup victory

Khan's career-high as a captain and cricketer came when he led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 International Cricket Council Cricket World Cup. Playing with a brittle batting lineup, Khan promoted himself as a batsman to provide stability in the top order together with Javed Miandad, but his contribution as a bowler was minimal. In the final match, at the age of 39, Khan scored the highest runs of all the Pakistani batsmen and took the winning last wicket himself.


In 1996, Khan successfully defended himself in a libel action brought forth by former English captain and all-rounder Ian Botham and batsman Allan Lamb over comments they alleged were made by Khan in two articles about ball-tampering and another article published in the Indian magazine, India Today. They claimed that, in the latter publication, Khan had called the two cricketers "racist, ill-educated and lacking in class." Khan protested that he had been misquoted, saying that he was defending himself after once admitting that he tampered with a ball in a county match 18 years ago.

In 1994, Khan had admitted that, during Test matches, he "occasionally scratched the side of the ball and lifted the seam." He had also added, "Only once did I use an object. When Sussex were playing Hampshire in 1981 the ball was not deviating at all. I got the 12th man to bring out a bottle top and it started to move around a lot." Khan won the libel case, which the judge labeled a "complete exercise in futility", with a 10-2 majority decision by the jury.

Charity worker

For more than four years after retiring from cricket in 1992, Khan focused his efforts solely on social work. By 1991, he had founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Trust, a charity organization bearing the name of his mother, Mrs. Shaukat Khanum. As the Trust's maiden endeavor, Khan established Pakistan's first and only cancer hospital, constructed using donations and funds exceeding $25 million, raised by Khan from all over the world. Inspired by the memory of his mother, who died of cancer, the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital & Research Centre, a charitable cancer hospital with 75 percent free care, opened in Lahore on December 29, 1994. Khan currently serves as the chairman of the hospital and continues to raise funds with the help of celebrities such as Sushmita Sen, Elizabeth Hurley, and several members of the Pakistani and Indian cricket team. During the 1990s, Khan also served as UNICEF's Special Representative to support health and immunization programmes in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Currently, Khan has been working on two major social projects. He is building another cancer hospital in Karachi, using his successful Lahore institution as a model. He is also helping establish a technical college in the Mianwali District, called Namal College, with the collaboration of University of Bradford in UK. The Namal College is being built by the Mianwali Development Trust (MDT), and was made an associate college of the University of Bradford in December 2005 when Imran Khan and the University's vice-chancellor, Professor Chris Taylor, signed a memorandum of understanding. While in London, Khan also works with the Lord’s Taverners, a cricket charity.

Political career

A few years after the end of his professional career as a cricketer, Khan entered electoral politics while admitting that he had never voted in an election before running for office himself. His political foray was influenced by Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, the former Pakistani intelligence chief famous for fueling the Taliban's rise in Afghanistan and for his anti-American viewpoint. In 1996, Khan founded his own political party called the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) with a proposed slogan and vision of "Justice, Humanity and Self Esteem."

Khan and members of his party were universally defeated at the polls in the 1997 general elections, during which the Pakistani press reported that Khan's campaign was financed by a £5 million contribution from his father-in-law at the time, Sir James Goldsmith. Khan denied this.

Five years later, in the legislative elections held on October 20, 2002, the party won 0.8% of the popular vote and one out of 272 open seats. The only member of PTI to be elected was Khan himself, who ran from the small constituency of Mianwali. As an MP, Khan was part of two National Assembly committees: Standing Committee on Kashmir and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. His stated areas of legislative interest were Foreign Affairs, Education and Justice.

In June 2007, the federal Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr. Sher Afghan Khan Niazi and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party filed separate ineligibility references against Khan, asking for his disqualification as member of the National Assembly on grounds of immorality. Both references, filed on the basis of articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, were rejected on September 5. The presiding judge declared, "As the detailed judgement is placed on record, the short order is in favor of the respondent."

On October 2, 2007, Khan joined 85 other MPs to resign from Parliament in protest of the Presidential election scheduled for October 6. The president of Pakistan is elected by members of the National Assembly, and many in this legislative branch, such as Khan, contended that General Musharraf's bid to seek re-election in the presidential poll while retaining the post of army chief was illegal and unconstitutional. He and his party also boycotted the elections of 18th February 2008 along with other democratic parties saying that they were unconstitutional. He was offered five seats in the national assembly by Nawaz Sharif but he refused and supported the reinstatement of the recently deposed judges. PTI chairman Mr. Imran Khan condemned US attacks on civilians and innocent people of tribal areas.


Khan's political platform and declarations are founded on: Islamic values, to which he rededicated himself in the 1990s; liberal economics, with the promise of deregulating the economy and creating a welfare state; decreased bureaucracy and anti-corruption laws, to create and ensure a clean government; the establishment of an independent judiciary; overhaul of the country's police system; and an anti-militant vision for a democratic Pakistan.

Khan has credited his decision to enter politics with a spiritual awakening, influenced by his conversations with a mystic from the Sufi sect of Islam that began in the last years of his cricket career. "I never drank or smoked, but I used to do my share of partying. In my spiritual evolution there was a block," he explained to the American Washington Post. As an MP, Khan sometimes voted with a bloc of hard-line religious parties such as the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, whose leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, he supported for prime minister over Musharraf's candidate in 2002. Rehman is a pro-Taliban cleric who has called for holy war against the United States.

Khan told Britain's Daily Telegraph, "I want Pakistan to be a welfare state and a genuine democracy with a rule of law and an independent judiciary." Other ideas he has presented include a requirement of all students to spend a year after graduation teaching in the countryside and cutting down the over-staffed bureaucracy in order to send them to teach too. "We need decentralisation, empowering people at the grass roots," he has said. In June 2007, Khan publicly deplored Britain for knighting Indian-born author Salman Rushdie. He said, "Western civilisation should have been mindful of the injury the writer had caused to the Muslim community by writing his highly controversial book, The Satanic Verses."


Khan is dismissed within the establishment and the commentating class as a political lightweight. His critics say the crowds he draws are attracted by his cricketing celebrity, and the public has been reported to view him as a figure of entertainment rather than a serious political authority. His failure to gain broader political power or build a national support base is ascribed, by commentators and observers, to Khan's naivete and lack of political maturity.

One charge constantly raised against Khan is that of hypocrisy and opportunism, especially in light of his vociferous criticism of President Musharraf after having supported his military takeover in 1999. In a column entitled "Will the Real Imran Please Stand Up," Pakistani columnist Amir Zia quoted one of PTI's Karachi-based leaders as saying, "Even we are finding it difficult to figure out the real Imran. He dons the shalwar-kameez and preaches desi and religious values while in Pakistan, but transforms himself completely while rubbing shoulders with the elite in Britain and elsewhere in the west."

Opposition to Musharraf and Bush

Khan supported General Pervez Musharraf's military coup in 1999, but denounced his presidency a few months before the 2002 general elections. Many political commentators and his opponents termed Khan's change in opinion an opportunistic, rather than principled, move. "I regret supporting the referendum. I was made to understand that when he won, the general would begin a clean-up of the corrupt in the system. But really it wasn't the case," Khan later explained. During the 2002 election season, he also voiced his opposition towards Pakistan's logistical support to US troops for the war in Afghanistan. Campaigning in Kamar Mushani, he told the crowd that their country had become a "servant of America." Khan subsequently voted in favor of the pro-Taliban Islamist candidate for prime minister in 2002, bypassing Musharraf's choice.

On May 6, 2005, Khan became one of the first Muslim leaders to criticize a 300-word Newsweek story about the alleged desecration of the Qur'an in a U.S. military prison at the Guantánamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Khan held a press conference to denounce the article and demanded that Gen. Pervez Musharraf secure an apology from American president George W. Bush for the incident. Khan has been a vocal critic of Pakistan's alliance with the United States, especially in fighting the so-called War on Terror. In 2006, he exclaimed, "Musharraf is sitting here, and he licks George Bush’s shoes!" Criticizing other Muslim leaders supportive of the Bush administration, he added, "They are the puppets sitting on the Muslim world. We want a sovereign Pakistan. We do not want a president to be a poodle of George Bush." During George W. Bush's visit to Pakistan in March 2006, Khan was placed under house arrest after having threatened to organise a protest against the American president's implicit support for dictatorship in Pakistan. In Islamabad, Khan was picked up in a restaurant and locked in his home.


On November 3, 2007, Khan was put under house arrest by the Musharraf-led government, hours after the President declared a state of emergency in Pakistan. Khan had demanded the death penalty for Musharraf after the imposition of emergency rule, which he equated to "committing treason". The next day, on November 4, Khan managed to escape his house arrest, under which he was being held at his father's house in Lahore, and went into peripatetic hiding. He eventually came out of hiding on November 14, in order to launch a student protest at the University of the Punjab.

At the rally, Khan was captured by students from the Jamaat-i-Islami political party, who held him in the nearby Centre for High Energy Physics for an hour and then handed him over to police at the university gates. In custody, he was charged under the Anti-terrorism act for allegedly inciting people to pick up arms, calling for civil disobedience, and for spreading hatred.

Incarcerated in the Dera Ghazi Khan Jail, Khan's relatives had access to him and were able to meet him to deliver goods during his week-long stay in jail. On November 19, 2007, Khan let out the word through PTI members and his family that he had begun a hunger strike against President Musharraf's dismissal of federal judges, asking for the judiciary to be reinstated. The Deputy Superintendent of Dera Ghazi Khan Jail, however, denied this news, saying that Khan had bread, eggs and fruit for breakfast.

Khan was one of the 3,000 political prisoners released from imprisonment on November 21, 2007.Khan did not participate in the 2008 general elections,and usually sits in the opposittion alongside other like sided parties of Achakzai and Qazi Hussain,together they discuss important issues in the APDM.

Awards and honours

In 1992, Khan was honoured with Pakistan's most prestigious civil award, the Hilal-i-Imtiaz. Before that, he had received the President’s Pride of Performance Award in 1983. Khan is featured in the University of Oxford's Hall of Fame and has been an honorary fellow of Oxford's Keble College. In 1976 as well as 1980, Khan was awarded The Cricket Society Wetherall Award for being the leading all-rounder in English first-class cricket.

Khan has also been named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1983, Sussex Cricket Society Player of the Year in 1985, and the Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year in 1990. On July 8, 2004, Khan was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 Asian Jewel Awards in London, UK. He was recognized for continuing "to devote his time between Pakistan and his adopted Britain, acting as a figurehead for many international charities and working passionately and extensively in fund-raising activities.

On December 7, 2005, Khan was appointed the fifth Chancellor of the University of Bradford, where he is also a patron of the Born in Bradford research project. On December 13, 2007, Khan received the Humanitarian Award at the Asian Sports Awards in Kuala Lumpur for his efforts in setting up the first cancer hospital in Pakistan.

Khan is placed at Number 8 on the all-time list of the ESPN Legends of Cricket.

Personal life

During his days as a cricketer, when he was once romantically linked to Susannah Constantine, Khan was known as a London socialite. On May 16, 1995, Khan married Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of the late Anglo-French billionaire Sir James Goldsmith. Jemima converted to Islam and the two were married in a two-minute Islamic ceremony conducted in Paris, France. A month later, on June 21, they were married again in a civil ceremony at the Richmond register office in England, which was followed by a reception at the Goldsmiths' house in Surrey. They lived in Lahore and the couple's first son, Sulaiman Isa, was born on November 18, 1996. Jemima gave birth to their second son, Kasim, on April 10, 1999.

Khan announced on June 22, 2004, that he and his wife had divorced. In a statement released by his political party, PTI, he said:

I sadly announce that Jemima and I are divorced. While Jemima tried her best to settle here, my political life made it difficult for her to adapt to life in Pakistan. This was a mutual decision and is clearly very sad for both of us. My home and my future is in Pakistan.

Khan allegedly has an out-of-wedlock daughter, born a few years before his marriage, with British heiress Sita White, daughter of Gordon White, Baron White of Hull. He has denied paternity but a judge in the U.S. ruled him to be the father of Tyrian Jade White after he failed to appear for a DNA test.


Further reading

  • Tennant, Ivo (1996). Imran Khan. Trafalgar Square.
  • Khan, Imran (1993). Warrior race: a journey through the land of the tribal Pathans. London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Khan, Imran (1992). All Round View. London: Mandarin.
  • Khan, Imran (1990). Indus journey: a personal view of Pakistan. London: Chatto & Windus.
  • Khan, Imran (1983). Imran: The autobiography of Imran Khan. London: Pelham Books.

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