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The Longer Read

Imran Khan’s demise has been swift and brutal – but it would be a mistake to write him off

Just a few years ago the former cricketer had successfully conquered Pakistan’s tumultuous political landscape – now he’s facing 14 years behind bars. Yet all is not lost for the man who once made even the country’s feared military fall into line, writes Omar Waraich

Wednesday 07 February 2024 11:13 GMT
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Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, arrives to address an election campaign rally in Islamabad in 2018 – today he’s facing a lifetime behind bars
Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, arrives to address an election campaign rally in Islamabad in 2018 – today he’s facing a lifetime behind bars (AP)

Few falls from power have been so swift and brutal. Just two years ago, cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan was comfortably ensconced in the prime minister’s house in Islamabad.

Many of his political enemies either languished in prison or had been dispatched into exile. The once raucous media had been successfully tamed. The powerful military, which had smoothed his ascent to power in 2018, sturdily propped up his government.

The pandemic had passed, with relatively little damage. Despite delivering on few of his lofty promises, he was convinced he was cruising to re-election while his ministers blithely boasted they would rule for a decade to come.

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