Some people in this world are destined for greatness and Imran Khan is no doubt one of them. No celebrity or sports star in Pakistan has ever attained so much fame and respect as Imran Khan, the former Pakistan cricket captain, Chairman of the Board of Shaukat Khanum Hospital, the only charity based cancer hospital of its kind in Pakistan, furthermore a philanthropist, humanitarian, member of the Parliament and leader of the political party Pakistan Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf.
Imran Khan is responsible for bringing about significant change in both the cricket and political structure in Pakistan.
Imran was a fine all-round cricketer and inspirational captain whose crowning achievement was leading Pakistan in winning the 1992 World Cup.
Right after retiring from professional cricket, he started a campaign to raise money in order to establish the first ever state of the art charity cancer hospital and research center in Pakistan.
Imran Khan was born on the 25th of November 1952 in Lahore. His father, Ikramullah Khan Niazi was an engineer by profession. His family was most accurately described as upper-middle class, and comfortably well off. He completed high school at the preppy Aitchison College in Lahore and then moved on to England to complete his bachelors at Oxford. He made his debut for Pakistan during the 1972 England series when he was eighteen and then went on to become a major force in world cricket.
Imran Khan is regarded as the greatest all-rounder cricket has ever produced. He was made captain of Pakistan for the tour of England in 1982. As a sportsman, Imran is best remembered primarily for his leadership. Gradually during his term, Imran became the most influential figure in Pakistan’s cricket setup. His success as captain owed largely to his own match-winning performances. When Pakistan started off badly at the 1992 World Cup and at a stage were completely out of contention for the title, Imran told his players to fight like ‘cornered tigers’ and so they did. Imran eventually led Pakistan to a well-deserved and memorable World Cup victory at Melbourne. This was surely Imran’s greatest moment as a cricketer.
Imran Khan had always been very close to his mother. However in 1984, Imran’s mother, Shaukat Khanum was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer. Cancer was known to be a rich man’s disease in Pakistan. Meaning that only well off people could afford to travel abroad and receive the proper life saving treatment. Inspite of flying to England for treatment in 1984, she passed away the following year in acute pain. His painful experience with cancer led his dream to build the first cancer hospital in Pakistan in honor of his mother.
His mother’s death made Imran appreciate just how precarious was the existence he had taken for granted. He reassured his values and sense of direction. His visits to hospitals in Pakistan and seeing the lay mans suffering made him realize how desperately the poor needed specialist cancer treatment. He then vowed to raise the money to build and equip a hospital in Lahore, his home city.
Ten years later, The Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and Research center was inaugurated in December 1994. This project has meant to Imran more than anything in this world. Today the hospital is recognized as the most credible and charitable institutions in Pakistan and around the world. The hospital was recognized for its services by the WHO and was awarded the “excellence award” in Geneva in 2004.
From leading the Pakistan team, to waging a personal crusade against cancer and the substandard educational system in Pakistan, Imran has always fought for truth, justice and humanity from the forefront and in this process won millions of hearts. Even today thousands worship him and are playing an important role in ensuring the smooth functioning of the hospital in Lahore.
The lively cricketer had been around the country giving fiery speeches like a politician rather than a former cricketer raising funds for his project. The politicians began to see him as their possible rival. Imran was banned from appearing on Pakistan Television for his call to raise money.
After the success of Imran’s hospital there was wide spread speculation from the media that Imran would soon be entering politics. Imran had never thought of entering politics during his cricketing days. General Zia-Ul-Haq, the late President of Pakistan, had offered Imran a post in his government days before his death, but Imran had declined the offer. He had declined a further offer of a cabinet position in 1993 from Pakistan’s interim government. After his experience of collecting funds, where he had first hand interaction with the poorest and of their grievances, Imran truly believed that there was a serious need for a revolution. Imran wanted to save Pakistan from further disaster. He wanted to serve the people who had given him fame and respect. He wanted to change the system for the better.
In April 1996, Imran launched the “Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf”, a movement for justice, against the ruling corrupt elite. In November 1996 Imran Khan, who had never voted in his life, joined politics and announced that his party would contest the general election due to be held in February 1997. The members of his party were mainly lawyers, doctors and other well-educated people who had no previous experience in politics. The general elections in Pakistan were held in February 1997. Tehrik-e-Insaaf failed to win a single seat. His party, which was projected as a third force in Pakistan, was completely wiped out in the elections. But Imran was successful in raising a voice against issues like corruption and accountability.
There can be little doubt that the long and painful journey he has undertaken, in reality is testimony to his social and humane commitment. He has been criticized for being over zealous about the project; he has been accused of exploiting his star status, his connections, and even the game itself for achieving his goal.
The election in 2004 was the 2nd time Tehrik-e-Insaaf contested. Although once again the party failed to acquire a significant amount of seats, however, Imran Khan won from Mianwali, his ancestral constituency. This is when he set on to build Namal College. The college has already been granted the status of an Associate College by the University of Bradford. The project is being managed by the Mianwali Development Trust (MDT).
Tehrik-e-Insaaf did not contest the 2008 elections, Imran Khan continues his fight “against” corruption and “for” justice and humanity.
Amongst his honors include the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 1993 by the Pakistani government, Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford and Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1983. He was also named Chancellor of Bradford Univ. in 2005. Only Pakistani to have been so honored in the UK.