Imran Khan led Pakistan to the world cricket championship in 1992. Now he’s a leading candidate for prime minister. On Thursday he received a warm welcome at a luncheon in Davos, Switzerland, hosted by a major Pakistani company, Pathfinder Group.
“Imran represents the hope for the future of Pakistan,” Pathfinder Group Chairman Ikram Sehgal told an audience of about 200 at a luncheon that was held in conjunction with the World Economic Forum but was not part of the forum’s agenda. “This is a make-or-break year for Pakistan,” he added. Pathfinder has 15,000 employees and provides security services.
Khan reiterated his promise that his Movement for Justice Party would “sweep” the elections, which are scheduled for February. A Pew Research Center survey in June found that Khan was Pakistan’s most popular leader, with seven of 10 respondents in the country expressing a favorable opinion of him. Khan claims strong support among youths, women, and urban dwellers. His platform includes fighting corruption, reviving the economy, negotiating an end to hostilities with guerrillas in the country’s northwest, and pulling out of a security alliance with the U.S.
Khan blames U.S. drone attacks for radicalizing the Pashtun population, pushing it closer to the Taliban. “All they do is create hatred. The people who are killed become martyrs. And they’re quickly replaced,” Khan said at the lunch.
This item originally appeared Jan. 24, 2013 on Businessweek.com as Pakistan’s Imran Khan: From Cricket to Politics to Davos. (Used by permission.)