India Today - - LEISURE -

celebrity might have kept such mat­ters pri­vate for fear of ridicule. It would be un­char­ac­ter­is­tic of Im­ran to do so.

Lib­er­als who laughed last year are shak­ing their heads at the prospect of Im­ran Khan as Prime Min­is­ter in 2013. (There is no dan­ger of Im­ran be­ing co-opted by the es­tab­lish­ment be­fore that be­cause he be­lieves the Zar­dari govern­ment to be the worst in Pak­istan’s his­tory.) Fun­da­men­tal­ists who once wanted to ban cricket cov­er­age on TV be­cause the sight of Im­ran rub­bing a red cherry on his trouser-front was tit­il­lat­ing many a fem­i­nine li­bido, are scratch­ing their beards in won­der.

Im­ran re­mains un­fazed. He does not give his crit­ics the plea­sure of re­venge; he ig­nores them with an aris­to­cratic hau­teur that doubt­less dou­bles their rage. It isn’t that he is icy cool by tem­per­a­ment. He once came close to hit­ting me when I asked an awk­ward ques­tion dur­ing a TV in­ter­view in which Gavaskar was the other guest. For­tu­nately, he pre­ferred re­straint and our friend­ship sur­vived. This is prob­a­bly the mo­ment for full dis­clo­sure. He has praised my book, Tin­der­box: The Past and Fu­ture of Pak­istan, hand­somely in this au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. I can­not say that this re­view is im­mune from af­fec­tion.

But it is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to note that Im­ran is a man with sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ments and splen­did am­bi­tions. Ir­re­spec­tive of what he does in the fu­ture, his finest work will be, in the opinion of many, the Shaukat Khanum Me­mo­rial Hos­pi­tal, which spe­cialises in can­cer care for the poor, and is a trib­ute to his mother, who died af­ter a long and painful strug­gle with can­cer in 1985. Im­ran raised the funds per­son­ally, ru­pee by dif­fi­cult ru­pee.

Im­ran’s track record in pol­i­tics would have de­stroyed any­one with less con­fi­dence. He has lost more elec­tions than he is ever go­ing to win, some so com­pre­hen­sively as to be hu­mil­i­at­ing. He once con­tested from seven dif­fer­ent con­stituen­cies and lost all. When, in an Army­con­trolled gen­eral elec­tion, he did get through, Mushar­raf rather spoilt the lim­ited plea­sure by dis­clos­ing that he had rigged the re­sults.

Im­ran says that he led his team to vic­tory in the 1992 World Cup when all seemed lost and he was play­ing with a torn car­ti­lage in his shoul­der, be­cause he had lost the fear of fail­ure. Such courage has helped him sur­vive till this mo­ment, when his pop­u­lar­ity has sud­denly ac­quired crit­i­cal mass. His former wife Jemima once asked him how long he would pur­sue pol­i­tics de­spite such ab­ject fail­ure. “But I couldn’t an­swer,” writes Im­ran, “sim­ply be­cause a dream has no time frame.”

It is time for that dream to come true.

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