SEVERE WX : Red Flag Warning - Severe Thunderstorm Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Imran Khan: Pakistan's Trump?

Imran Khan, who was sworn in Saturday as Prime Minister of Pakistan, is following in some f...

Posted: Aug 19, 2018 8:44 AM
Updated: Aug 19, 2018 8:44 AM

Imran Khan, who was sworn in Saturday as Prime Minister of Pakistan, is following in some familiar footsteps.

He won't thank anyone for pointing it out, but his brand of hard-nosed nationalist populism smacks of President Trump, notwithstanding the fact that Khan's been at politics way longer, a couple of decades at least.

Afghanistan

Asia

Celebrities

Continents and regions

Donald Trump

Elections and campaigns

Government and public administration

Government bodies and offices

Imran Khan (Actor)

Middle East

Middle East and North Africa

Military

North America

Pakistan

Political Figures - US

Politics

South Asia

Taliban

The Americas

United States

US federal government

White House

Election fraud

Election results

Political corruption

I've seen some of it close up, having followed him on the campaign trail during the country's recent elections.

We flew together on a flimsy helicopter in to the infamous "Swat Valley" in the Hindu Kush mountains into what a few years earlier had been the Pakistani Taliban's heartland.

RELATED: Imran Khan's party wins Pakistan election but falls short of majority

The town was close to where Nobel laureate, then-schoolgirl Malala Yousefzai was shot in the head by the radical extremist Taliban trying to stifle her calls for democracy and equality.

As we got out of the helicopter, Khan quickly jumped in an armored car, we took off at speed, dozens of gun-toting security men crammed onto flat-bed trucks barreling down the road with us.

When we arrived Khan got a rock star welcome: crowds, men and women, young and old going wild waiting to hear from him.

He commanded a huge crowd with ease, his anti-American, anti-Pakistani political establishment message connecting with the tribal, deeply conservative society crammed in to the sport stadium decked out in his party colors: green, red and black.

It was 2013. Bathing in adoration appeared to come naturally to him.

As Trump does today, I saw Khan invigorated by the crowd, pumping them up for victory as they inflated his ego, lifting him towards his goal.

But like the wind-ripped rocky helicopter ride into the remote region that day, his ambitions in the 2013 election were buffeted off course.

He was closing in on the leadership job he craved, could taste victory, enough to mount a four-month challenge accusing the establishment of cheating, rigging voting and the results.

Mega-star legend

It was another sports stadium, another era in Khan's life where his journey on the path to be Prime Minister was really cemented.

In 1992, at the end of a stellar career as one of the most gifted cricketers of his generation, he led Pakistan's national squad to world cup victory, the crowds rose for him as they had for more than two decades.

He was a mega-star legend, lived in London, grew a reputation as a playboy, and became a regular at many of the city's most glamorous nightspots, before joining British high society with his marriage to heiress Jemima Goldsmith.

Fame was his constant shadow; today he eschews the gilded good life he had back then for the principles of his conservative Islamic upbringing. But it was undoubtedly his cricketing poster boy popularity that was his passport into politics.

Like Trump he was born into privilege, and like the US President has never held political office.

His leadership is going to be anyone's guess.

Military: The real power behind Khan?

What won him votes, was an anti-corruption ticket, aiming to take down Pakistan's dueling rival political dynasties, coupled with his long-running anti-US rhetoric.

He has blasted Trump's Afghan policy which accuses Pakistan of not doing enough to fight terrorism, and for more than a decade Khan has escalated anti-US sentiment along the Afghan/Pakistan border, criticized US drone strikes and whipped up lethal fervor over alleged US misdeeds in Afghanistan.

In this election cycle his followers have swelled beyond the cadres of young religiously conservative men he's gathered in the past. Now they include voters simply wanting a change from the stultifying self-serving politicians of Pakistan's two dynastic powerhouses who are widely blamed for having driven the country into an economic hole.

This analysis belies the other force at work in Pakistan's politics though: the military, who may be the real constituency behind Khan's success.

Pakistan's powerful army has been blamed by many journalists for intimidation in the months leading up to the election, particularly of critics of Khan. But the military has never been far from power, has engineered several coups in the country's short seven-decade history, and has a disproportionately large number of business interests inside Pakistan.

In short, Khan won't be his own man. No amount of Khan's popularity will sway them from their core interests, the survival of Pakistan.

The military believes India is an existential threat to their Muslim nation carved out of the bloody collapse of the British Raj.

The two nuclear-armed nations still face off high in the Himalayas on the Siachen glacier, at 21,000 feet above sea level it is the world's highest battlefield, but it is over Pakistan's western border in Afghanistan that today's battles are mostly waged.

Taliban key to Khan's success

In the early 1990s Pakistan's intelligence services backed Afghanistan's Taliban to take complete control of Afghanistan, to give the slender north-south Pakistan "strategic depth" westwards.

Trump's Afghan strategy calls for India to do more in Kabul, a red rag to Pakistan's military, and so where Trump might find common cause with Khan may be with the Taliban.

The US President needs the group to stop fighting and join the Afghan government so he can pull out US troops. Khan, an ethnic Pashtun like many Taliban, has built up his support among Pakistani Taliban loyalists, which could be a conduit to negotiations with the Taliban.

To align all of that will require more than the public threats by Trump to cooperate or else, and will likely need much more than is in Khan's grasp to give -- or for that matter the military's will to offer.

In the short term Khan is going to be consumed by forming a government, tackling a crooked and crumbling economy, dealing with creditors like China, and fighting off allegations of a rigged election from the Pakistan's Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League -- the same two dynasties he's been fighting for decades, the same people he led street protests against claiming the same wrongdoing in 2013.

To borrow from his cricketing legacy, he is going to have to hit a few boundaries before he can turn to Trump's demands, and by all accounts he'll need the military's help to do it.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 19699

Reported Deaths: 333
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah455393
Washington287723
Marion271368
Umatilla212224
Clackamas144337
Malheur70812
Deschutes5488
Lane5353
Jackson4111
Yamhill39912
Lincoln3959
Union3922
Jefferson3243
Morrow3162
Polk30012
Linn25510
Klamath1981
Hood River1740
Wasco1713
Benton1606
Douglas1391
Josephine1071
Coos880
Columbia840
Clatsop820
Crook431
Baker350
Lake320
Tillamook320
Wallowa191
Curry140
Sherman140
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant20
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 526685

Reported Deaths: 9684
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles1958054760
Riverside38487738
Orange38066653
San Bernardino34017477
San Diego30516568
Kern21228151
Fresno15759138
San Joaquin11958180
Alameda11909192
Santa Clara11030192
Sacramento10174148
Tulare9990193
Imperial9513232
Stanislaus9308135
Contra Costa8176131
Ventura787777
San Francisco698961
Santa Barbara652663
San Mateo5744120
Marin518076
Monterey496634
Merced458351
Kings445356
Solano380638
Sonoma311339
Madera211432
Placer195318
San Luis Obispo192616
Yolo161442
Santa Cruz11964
Butte10128
Napa9809
Sutter8406
San Benito6894
El Dorado6681
Lassen6320
Yuba5334
Shasta3979
Colusa3574
Mendocino3419
Glenn3321
Nevada3161
Tehama2461
Humboldt2454
Lake2111
Mono1451
Tuolumne1442
Amador1370
Calaveras1361
Del Norte900
Siskiyou880
Inyo641
Mariposa592
Plumas330
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 88°
Brookings
Overcast
64° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Crater Lake
Broken Clouds
87° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 87°
Grants Pass
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 84°
Klamath Falls
Broken Clouds
87° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 87°
Thunderstorm threat Wednesday, possible new fire starts
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events