Imran Khan is one of those rare politicians that seem to only invoke extreme, diametrically opposite reactions. There is simply no middle ground with the former cricketer, you either love him unconditionally, or hate everything he stands for. Either way, Imran Khan has undeniably changed the face of Pakistani politics.
From a fiery election campaign across Pakistan, to intense verbal assault on political rivals, Imran Khan dominated national news in the first half of the year with his controversial statements, unequivocal stand on issues of national import, and political rhetoric. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf emerged as the third largest national party (second, if you go by popular votes) in the May 11 elections, almost exactly 17 years after the party’s inception in April 1996. Even disastrous moments, such as the grievous fall on May 7 that nearly crippled the former cricketer, could not come at a better time, providing an emotional boost to his campaign just days before the elections.
The PTI has now formed its own government in the Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province. Imran Khan’s stance on drones, his emphasis on the need to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban, and his unrelenting blockade of NATO supply trucks in his province have earned him the ire of political rivals and even former allies. Continuing to build his reputation as a hardliner, Imran Khan and his controversial methods will undeniably influence the political discourse in Pakistan in the coming years.