Rise & fall

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a cricketing hero-turned-politician who was arrested on Tuesday, whipped up popular support amid decades-high inflation and a crippling economic slowdown before his ouster last year. The 70-year-old has since showed no sign of slowing down, even after being wounded in a November attack on his convoy as he led a protest march to Islamabad calling for snap general elections. Imran Khan is again among the country’s most popular leaders, according to local polls. His rise to power in 2018 came over two decades after he first launched his political party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice party, in 1996.In 2011, Imran Khan began drawing huge crowds of young Pakistanis disillusioned with endemic corruption, chronic electricity shortages and crises in education and unemployment. He drew even greater backing in the ensuing years, with educated Pakistani expatriates leaving their jobs to work for his party and pop musicians and actors joining his campaign. His goal, Imran Khan told supporters in 2018, was to turn Pakistan from a country with a small group of wealthy and a sea of poor into an example for a humane system, a just system, for the world, of what an Islamic welfare state is. That year he was victorious, marking a rare ascension by a sporting hero to the pinnacle of politics.But his anti-corruption drive was heavily criticised as a tool for sidelining political opponents – many of whom were imprisoned on charges of graft. Pakistan’s generals also remained powerful and military officers, retired and serving, were placed in charge of more than a dozen civilian institutions.