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Imran’s new captaincy as Prime Minister

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05th-Aug-2018       
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Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque :
The rise of Imran Khan as a political leader was amazing. His rise as Prime Minister happened to be all on a sudden. He is not a leader of the numerically large political party. Contrarily his reaching the pinnacle of glory in cricket deserves special mention. He was a bowling all-rounder captaining the winning side several time. His space bowling swinging ball in a deceptive manner enabled team Pakistan to win a number of games even against the mighty opponents like Australia, England and West Indies. I can well remember that  Imran Khan took six wickets in both innings in Sydney test contributing to the victory of Pakistan as man of the match. His leading role as captain of world cup winning team was a landmark in the history of Pakistan cricket. Having made a good fist of the most difficult job in Pakistan Imran Khan is all set for toughest assignment  as the Prime Minster.
He started his venture outside cricket in 1997 when he entered in politics by setting up his own party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as an initiative to eradicate mismanagement and corruption in his country. But to note, his venture outside cricket was less than successful as he entered the political fray and could not for more than one reason make a huge impression on the people through his party. Apart from his supremacy in cricket, Imran is fondly remembered for his charitable work. Since retiring, Khan has written opinion pieces on cricket for various British and Asian newspapers, especially regarding the Pakistani national team. Imran Khan started his career as a cricketer of Pakistan national cricket team. Khan made his Test debut in 1971 against England in Birmingham where he failed to make a mark due to his not-so-good performance. He, notably, led Pakistan to victory at the 1992 Cricket World Cup, Pakistan's first and only victory in that competition. Imran was chosen as the captain of the cricket team in 1982. He performed stupendously as an all-rounder, leading his team to its first Test victory against England, at Lord's, after 28 years. Though he retired in 1987, he returned back in 1988 upon President General Zia-ul-Haq's return. Imran khan loves to take challenge all with his self-confidence  and firm determination. His captaincy was a source to inspiration to his compatriots. In fact he was cricket icon and  the best captain ever produced.
No one perhaps ever expected that that cricket icon would become a icon in Pakistan politics where military manipulate things from behind. There is a frequency of change of elected prime minister. What appears impossible in India and Bangladesh is possible in Pakistan.
Imran founded the party in 1996, four years after retiring from international cricket, his last act the final wicket in Pakistan's memorable - and so far only - World Cup win in 1992.
The party had been widely predicted to win in these elections. Success in politics was a long time coming, however, the party winning a solitary seat in the first three elections after its creation.
A breakthrough came in the last general elections in 2013 when, though they didn't win nationally, they were able to form a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly known as NWFP, the North-Western Frontier province according to News reports).
Since giving up the game and concentrating first on building a state-of-the-art cancer hospital (free for those who cannot afford treatment) and then politics, Imran has campaigned from a conservative, right-leaning platform. It is, his critics contend, a far cry from his 80s heyday, though Imran himself has acknowledged it publicly as a reawakening.
His election could potentially have some impact on the workings of the PCB. For a start, as Prime Minister, he will become patron of the board, which gives him considerable sway over the composition of the governing board. He can directly nominate two members to it, according to the PCB's constitution, and he has the power to remove a chairman.
That could be significant because his relationship with the incumbent Najam Sethi is an especially acrimonious one, stemming from the 2013 elections. And it has long been an unwritten rule in Pakistan politics that a change of government inevitably brings a change in PCB administration.
His arrival could also hold implications for domestic cricket.
He is a voluble and longstanding critic of a domestic system in which department teams such as banks and airlines are the main stakeholders and in which regional sides are very much the poor cousins. Long ago he argued that domestic cricket should mirror the Australian model, made of a small number of regional-based sides, focusing on quality rather than quantity.
As it stands, he is the first international cricketer to be elected Prime Minister; George Weah, the footballer, is a notable parallel, having recently been elected President of Liberia. Imran's fiercest political rival over the last few years and Prime Minister until last year, Nawaz Sharif, has incidentally played one game of first-class cricket.
The challenge for him political leader is recalcitrant. He has to manage things amidst score of problems the country has been facing. The problem of corruption is the biggest one. Yet survival as PM would be challenge for Imran. As Pak. PM is not so strong constitutionally. He has to placate army and determine course of not in his own way but according to ways set by the court. Thing is that Pakistan is going aheads with democratic development. Nevertheless political stability is missing.

(Dr. Md. Shairul Mashreque is a retired professor of Chittagong University).

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