Pakistani politician and former cricket captain Imran Khan talked to NDTV about his new book, his very public divorce, and what he feels about sometimes being referred to as "Taliban Khan."
Barkha: What struck me as really interesting going through your book which is called 'Personal History', is that it reads much more like a story that is about the evolution of Imran Khan as a politician and a person, and also the evolution of Pakistan, and not so much about your cricketing life. Was that a deliberate choice that you made? Although there are of course cricket anecdotes and how it shaped and formed you as a person. But the book doesn't focus much on cricket. It focuses on your personal narrative. How deliberate was it to keep much of the cricket out of the book?
Imran Khan: Barkha it wasn't meant to be a cricket book. Basically the objective, there were two objectives, one were the youth in Pakistan is totally directionless at the moment. There is so much confusion. What is Pakistan? Why was it made? Are we secular? Are we Islamic? You know, what is our identity? Then this whole war on terror. There were so many questions and specially now when there is so many crisis in Pakistan. There are so many questions, how can we get out of that? So it was really to give direction to our young people and with my own personal history how I saw Pakistan. Pakistan was five years old when I was born so, so how did we see this country reach this point and secondly it's to explain to people outside Pakistan, you know about our country and then this war on terror, you know because you and I have spoken on this before. There is so much misconception about this war. No one seems to know, you know, what is the end of this war. So I have tried to give my solution to which I have stuck to from day one. Solutions lie in politics. They do not lie in some moderate Islam or religion.
Barkha: Imran but tell me, you have always been a public person, first as a cricketing hero and then as a politician. But how difficult was it for you to go public with the more private parts of your life. For example, there was a chapter on your marriage. You also talk about how you first started to believe in God, your spiritual experiences, the influence of Mian Basheer, for example, on your life. How difficult was it for you to share the personal parts of your life with the world at large, in the form of a book?
Imran Khan: Well the marriage was a bit difficult but it was important because being a very public marriage and a public divorce, rather than other people sort of, you know, give explanation for it. There is a film going to be made, apparently there is a film coming up. So it was much important for me to correct narratives and secondly about Mian Basheer, my spiritual evolution. I think it was very important to explain to people what is Islam. And for me what is religion because people can't place me. One I have been called part of the Jewish plot on one hand and considered Taliban sympathiser, Taliban Khan on the other hand. So I thought best to define myself what am I? What do I believe in? What is my Islam and that is why it was very important to make people understand my great inspiration. One was Mian Basheer who actually removed these impediments in the way of belief. You know he was just a very incredible man in my life. But the real inspiration was the great Iqbal and I was so inspired by the readings of Iqbal, hence one chapter about rediscovering Iqbal, because when you talk about what should be Pakistan secular or Islamic, well go back to Iqbal and Iqbal was probably the Muslim greatest brain in my opinion in the last five hundred years. And what was Iqbal? So go back..He was the ideological father, ideological founding father of Pakistan.
Barkha: Imran you say this is not a cricket book, but in the beginning of the book you do talk about how as a young boy of 16 you joined the Lahore cricket team and you find yourself to be a kind of angrez among an essentially Urdu medium educated team. Yet for most of your life, till you entered politics, perhaps many in Pakistan would have seen you, as well as that, as someone who represented the upper crust, the elite, the western educated, English speaking, sort of crust of Pakistan. So has that been a paradox for you personally?
Imran Khan: Well, you know in the book I also talk about the impact of colonialism and it goes, both all over the subcontinent whether you are Pakistani, Indian, from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, it has affected all of us. So it has created this class the Lord Macaulay's children I call them. We all became, we became the English medium, became westernized and yet we got detached from the masses. Actually I have seen a very good film called Dhobi Ghat. I don't know whether you have seen this by Aamir Khan. It is a very good film which just shows the class system, you know the English and the Hindi medium or the Urdu medium. So this class is very much I talk about and I think, you know a society must get rid of this. You know when you come out of colonialism you must sort of have an integrated education system. In Pakistan our education system is, has increased the gulf between the small westernised class and the majority of people and then we have Dini Madrasa which is the third tier, three parallel education systems in one country. And the problems it has caused us in our country. Fundamentalism is, one of the reason of fundamentalism, as these three tier education which has created class, cultural, reigns, and which there of course have been confused. So I tried sort of tackle that in my book. How for my eyes, coming out of it in college, this sort of almost brought up as an English public school boy and then coming into the Lahore team, which was all Urdu medium and they use to laugh. The moment I used to open my mouth they use to start laughing you know, so there was this big cultural gap between us.
Barkha: But Imran tell me, I do sense this whole thing of dealing with post-colonialism and so on but one senses an anti-Western sentiment in your book. Yet when you look at your own personal journey, whether it was your years in Oxford which you described as a huge culture shock, but you also write that Mick Jagger and David Bowie were your role models and your political role model was Karl Marx, or whether it was your reticent, sort of, college education. Do you not think of this Western liberal education brought some very good things to your life. Why would you want to deny that to the rest of the Pakistan. Is it all bad?
Imran Khan: No, no, no. But Barkha you got this wrong. I have never been anti-western. There this idea of anti-west, what is anti-west? I mean West is all depends, are you talking about the American West, are you talking about the European which is different to English. I mean what is from North Europe to South Europe is different, there is no such thing as anti-west. I try and bring out the influences that have been disruptive in our world. So superficial westernization is what I object to, where we adopt superficial ways like clothes and you know language and stuffs like that. Thinking that you know you can actually bypass the reason why the west is where it is, is not because of certain things that we have adapted to. It is all about democracy, is freedom of speech, you know quest for education, quest for knowledge. I mean that the reason why they have got there for a specific reason which are identified in the book but unfortunately what happens, is when you just adopt superficialities, all it does is, it has created confusion, cultural. It has created such identity such crisis in our country, so it has created this westernized education, what I mean is the English medium education. It does not mean deny. At the moment knowledge means the West leads in knowledge. You should as the saying of the prophet, go to at that time, fourteen hundred years ago, go to China to get knowledge if you can. So knowledge, if they are the leaders of knowledge, then we should go after that knowledge but let's not confuse one thing. Let's not confuse quest for knowledge, from cultural imperialism, adopting a culture that is going to create total confusion in our part of the world, which has already been created in America amongst the Red Indians and amongst the Aborigines. You look at what has happened. People have lost their culture, they become neither, you know they have, I mean created a mess. So it's to avoid that. A culture evolves, you don't super impose another culture on it. So it's basically dealing with that, so it's not anti-western. Yes, go on
Barkha: You also write about how a lot of subcontinental cricket in those years was about certain equality on the cricket field. You mention Sunil Gavaskar, yourself and Vivian Richards. How important was that in those years to use cricket as an assertion of equality?
Imran Khan: Well you know we were all three of us were contemporaries and for India and Pakistan, we had not won against England, specially in England. So for us, and by the way, at that time now the ICC is different. ICC for a long time was just Australia and England, we were very much the sort of second class people in there. So you know we were the generation that asserted ourselves. West Indians a decade before us with Gary Sobers and that lot had already asserted the equality. But Vivian Richards was one specific player who was very much conscious of this colonial background, and so when you played cricket against England it was always this thing because we were, as I said Sunil and I probably, we first generation Indian or Pakistani grew up in an independent country, our parents grew up in colonial India. So therefore it was very much in our nature to compete extra against England, because of this colonial thing that is stuck with us.
Barkha: Now Imran as a cricketer and then as a politician, you have actually known and encountered most of Pakistan's major political players. You write interestingly about your relationship with General Zia-ul-Haq, whom you initially say, you shared a good relationship with. You write movingly about how he asked you on live television to come out of your retirement, but you also seem to suggest that it was only in a sense after his tenure was over that you were able to assess the damage that his tenure had caused. Most Pakistanis I know seem to keep saying, will Pakistan be Zia's Pakistan or Jinnah's Pakistan. Is that how you see it? Do you see Zia's tenure as a watershed moment in a sense of bringing fundamentalist and regimented Islam in your country?
Imran Khan: What Zia-ul-Haq's time did was, that when we, then again we were sort of frank listed for the United States, as we were 20 years later then we were taking money, taking dollars to create jehadis, 20 years later we took money to kill the same jehadis, when it was happening we did not really realise that, I mean I certainly didn't. I do say in the book, that when you are in competitive sport, international sport you are so focused on it, that it becomes a world in itself. So your world, the first thing when I used to pick up the newspaper I used to read the sports page, you know your world narrows down to sports, and I was at that time at my peak and my concentration was cricket. So at that time, I must confess I didn't realise the impact. It was afterwards when we were left with the militants groups. And sadly the goverments that followed did not have the vision or strength to counter this, or to make sure that once the Afghan Jehad was over, we should have then countered the impact of these sectarian group, especially these militant secetarial groups that was created that started killing each other. So unfortunately they became assets at that time for our establishment and they were used, and I think in hindsight, and remember hindsight is 20-20, I think it was a big mistake.
Barkha: Describe your relationship with Benazir Bhutto. You write about meeting her at Oxford, at a friend's house, trying to calm her down in the middle of an argument. Later even trying to set her up with a cousin who then ended up getting married to somebody else. But you do say at one point that you and Benazir became good friends. Did that friendship last through the politics, in the sense, for ever, especially after she got married to President Zardari?
Imran Khan: The friendship actually lasted, certainly in the University it lasted and then I didn't see her for a long time, until she just came out of jail. General Zia put her in jail and then I met her after that, we met at a dinner, so again it resumed and I had introduced her to someone, and yes they were planning to get married. But then her brothers hijacked this plan and so she was put back in to the jail. So the friendship remained until she got into power and there was a bit of disappointment because somehow I didn't expect, knowing her background, seeing where she came from, knowing that she knew Western democracies, and the way her two years in power were, they were big disappointment. But remember her first job in life was to become a prime minister, so really if we look at her how did we expect her to succeed.
Barkha: Do you believe Pakistan will ever discover who was responsible for her assassination?
Imran Khan: I think you will have to wait for the...government to come into power in the next elections, only then we can discover, because somehow I think there was a big cover up, the people who were involved in the cover up are still around, and I don't think we will find out right now.
Barkha: Now interestingly you mentioned, coming into power and you sounded reasonably confident. And I must juxtapose that with your former wife Jemima saying to you,; and you mention this in the book. How long will you pursue politics without succeeding? Was there ever a moment for you when you basically said I can't do this anymore? And what has changed? And you still have those moments of doubt or are you fully confident in the sense that political tide turned for you and changed for you?
Imran Khan: Never, in 15 years of politics did I ever doubt that I would not succeed. Never, because, now remember this is, and I traced in the book, that by the time I got into politics I had already evolved through so much struggle in my life and having so many ups and downs, that I understood what it was to pursue a mission. So politics was a mission. It wasn't an option. I wasn't going in there for some profession. So even if I failed in an election, it wasn't a catastrophe at a personal level. It wasn't as if, like most of the professional politicians, their everything is at stake in an election, which is why they compromise, because they make money through politics and they protect that corrupt wealth through politics, so everything depends on winning and losing for them. For me it wasn't something personal, so I knew I would go through bad times, and when I entered politics and the sort of politics I wanted to, I knew I would have to stand up to the entire state. I would go through a lot of bad times because you just can't come into politics and expect to beat those people who are professionals. So I always knew there will be bad times and I knew how to cope with bad times. The problem was not me, Barkha, the problem was my team. They didn't know how to cope with bad times, so I used to have real trouble in keeping them motivated. And there was a time when there were literally about 5 to 10 active people left in my party. Everyone had either become, or had left the party.
Barkha: But in a sense Imran your commitment to a political life cost you your marriage. That's actually what you write when you say that Jemima was very young when she married you. She didn't, there was already a cross-cultural marriage to cope with and the, perhaps you know, you and she didn't calculate what sort of sacrifices that would involve. You also write about how you being you, you could never move to London and become a cricket journalist, for example, in a bid to save your marriage. You knew you had to pursue this line of politics. When you look back, is there any sense of regret, when you compare the costs that your political life had on losing a marriage?
Imran Khan: As you say in my book, the problem I faced was, once I got into politics was, here, my hospital had just opened up, so it took a lot of time. First five years my office was in the hospital, so when it was standing on its feet I had to be there all the time. Then my party, I just started my party in 1996, so the problem was my time, and I had married in 1995. So now I was balancing all these things and the problem is, when you have a cross culture marriage, Jemima did not have roots in Pakistan, she didn't have family here, it needs far more time than, if you marry your own, someone from here who has friends and family and backup, so that was one problem I faced. The second was that a marriage, in order to survive, needs two people to grow in the same direction, so if you have a similar passion, any cross culture marriage can work, because it then transcended geography. Problem with me, was that in the first election when she, and Jemima is very political, when she was attacked by the Opposition, they just focused on her, and it was an attack I didn't know how to deal with, because they started calling her, as if this marriage was all part of a Jewish lobby to take over Pakistan. Now it was so bizarre that I couldn't take it seriously, but I didn't realise there was so much money and power, my opponents, and they were so scared because they couldn't attack me on corruption. I was hitting them on corruption, so they ended up attacking her, and it was such a powerful attack that we actually then, after the first election, we had to remove her from politics. And she too, of course, didn't want to, she was so sort of shell shocked by this whole thing, and I sort of kept her out of politics. So the problem was that we then could not, we were not going in the same direction. Our directions changed, and really I think that was critical in the end, because it's just not possible that here you can't give enough time, and then the time and all the time in politics and by myself, she is another direction. And so, I would say, that was the main reason in the end.
Barkha: But what about your kids, you write about being able to make them feel you and Jemima of course on good terms, she even moderated your book launch in the United Kingdom. But she writes in the Independent saying that you know she wondered that whether, a) you worry that the sacrifices of not seeing your boys grow up in the end will be worth it; and 2) whether you actually fear for your life and for them, given what Pakistan is like, it's so unpredictable, so volatile, it's often so unsafe?
Imran Khan: The question of fear about losing your life and stuff like that, the one thing I discovered in my life was that people who have fears, they never fulfill their potential as human beings. Cricketers, when I was playing cricket, the ones who were scared, a batsman who is scared of getting hit by a fast bowler, never became a great batsman, a player who was scared of failure never became great, a businessman, who's scared of taking risk never becomes a big businessman, a politician who's scared to die, politics is not the play for him. So you will have to conquer your fears to achieve your dreams. But the other aspect in this thing is, I guess she is right in a way, the only void in my life is being not being able to spend enough time with my children, although having said that, looking at other people, I am still more fortunate. I spend more time with my boys than most people I know. I certainly spent more time with my children than the cricketers I played out with, I mean the cricketers I played with hardly spent time with their children. So I was a full time father, I spent most of the time, and even now I think I have, you know when my children's holidays come, that's the time I take my holiday and we just spend all the time together, so I think I am very fortunate.
Barkha: That's interesting that actually cricketers on tour probably get less time with their kids, but you know you say that you have, in a sense, crossed that curve where you feel fear, but Jemima gave, writing in the Independent article, said she was too scared to even ask you what you thought about Pakistan's blasphemy laws. She felt that given what Pakistan's like it would, you might say something that would make you vulnerable. Do you worry about being able to say honestly on something like the whole blasphemy controversy, this sort of time when Salman Taseer's assassin has been given a death sentence by an anti-terror court? Do you worry about being able to take an honest position on this issue?
Imran Khan: Well Barkha, you would have known my views and how what my beliefs are by reading the book. So any one religion, if it's just outwards religion, if you are just into rituals, it's one thing, but true religion must make you compassionate. I do not know of any genuine spiritual person who does not have compassion. Now having said that, I have never understood when people kill in the name of religion. I can't understand that mindset, because surely it's not religion. This is just like, people use religion like they use other things, but this is not true religion. Now Pakistan has become so polarised right now that Jemima is right. It is such a polarised society because of this war on terror, that religious scholars are scared to talk. There is a person I know very well, a friend of mine, one of the best religious minds, intellectual minds, he's had to go to Malasiya. Javed Gandhi has had to go to Malasiya, because his religious views were offensive to these certain hardliners that they threatened to kill him. Imams have been bombed in mosques for saying suicide bombing is against religion. They have been bombed in mosques, so just imagine as in how polarised it has got. That Salman Taseer, what he said, had he said that seven years ago, I am telling you it would not even have made the news, I mean for what he had been killed. So it's got polarised. I have been the biggest opponent of this war on terror. I have constantly said that this is radicalising our society, it is counterproductive, it is breeding terrorists, it is helping militants. It is completely the opposite, what the solution they are using to kill terrorism, is actually putting fuel on fire, and so she is absolutely right. This is not the time to be very brave and stand out, because you are up against fanatics. The society is producing radicals, the more killings we do, the more radicals, who think they are fighting to save Islam right now, so it's not very sensible now to be brave and come out with certain views.
Barkha: And yet in the book you write about how some of your own friends, for example, you mentioned Yousuf Salauddin, started seeing you as a kind of born-again Muslim, as somebody who was flipping into a mullah mindset. Have you had to deal with that a lot from your friends or do you think they essentially know who you are, because often your politics is accused of being far too conservative?
Imran Khan: As I said in the book the problem is you are either. As if you pray and believe in God, which I do, and once I started that, because here, remember, my life was completely different, this change was not overnight, it was transition which took about 3-4 years, which I explained in the book. But when that happened, and there is a time when you realise and it's very difficult to make anyone understand it. Only someone who has gone through it will know what I am talking about. As when all doubts are removed, they are not a series of coincidence that are happening, there is a power, there is a pattern to things and there is a God, and there is a reason for things happening. And so once that happens your life changes, now once that life changes, people who know you unless they are going through the same situation, or they have passed through the same evolutionary process like one of my friends had, who completely understood what was happening to me, the other friends, the 3-4 of my close friends, including Yousuf, they didn't know what was happening. So yes, there was a period, it did not last long, but there was a sort of little period we thought, you know, you become all sort of, you know, some thought I had gone mad.
Barkha: But you've stuck to your guns through all these years. Talk a little bit about what you see for Pakistan now. We've had, we've seen an all-party-meeting convened by Prime Minister Geelani. You've Washington now openly talking about the need to crack down on the Haqani network, keeping options open for another unilateral operation like the one with Osama-bin-Laden. Now most rational people looking at Pakistan would first ask the basic question, shouldn't Pakistan itself be cracking down on a network like the Haqqani network? Why should America even have to threaten to do so?
Imran Khan: Well all parties conference came up with actually a landmark resolution, and I am very proud to say that it was because of our party, my position, my party's position carried the resolution of 40 parties. And basically it said that give peace a chance, that for 7 years Pakistan has been conducting military operation in the tribal belt, we have not got anywhere. 10 years the Americans have been conducting operations in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of people killed, and this year has been more violent than any year. And all the talk about surge. and I remember being in Davos and they were talking about surge and dealing with the symptoms. But what has happened? The surge has failed, and so unless now you change strategies, this war is not going anywhere. We will keep going on like this for 10 years. Pakistan said it will go bankrupt very quickly, but I don't think the Americans can sustain this. So therefore you need to change strategies and basically give dialogue a chance. Talk about a political solution, because there is no military solution. Now, as far as Pakistan goes, in that meeting, General Kayani gave a briefing, and the briefing is very interesting. Because I actually tried to say this in Davos. You were there and the Speaker won't let me say what I want to say. Hundred and forty thousand Pakistani soliders, they are stuck in the tribal area. General Kayani said that all we can do, is we can hold the positions. But the moment we come back, the militants will come back again. We attack them, the millitants disappear in the hills, the mountains, with the moment we come. Unless there is a political solution he says, we are losing the war. Now this was General Kayani saying that. And he said, we don't have enough soldiers to send them now to north Waziristan, and if we send them there, we will have to pull up troops, and they will come back. The militants will come back in other agencies, and then he said, what will happen if we go after the Haqqani network? He said they will spread, because there are only about 5000 fighters in all, but there are three hundred and fifty thousand people living in north Waziristan. So the collateral damage he says, which will cause, because they have tanks and guns, these are militants hidden among the villages, so he says that the collateral damage will strengthen the militants even more. They will strengthen the terrorist and they will come and as it is, Pakistan cannot cope with the amount of suicide attacks. He said there will be more attacks in the cities, and he just said can you take that? He asked the civilian goverment, he says are you ready to take all this? Do you have the strength to cope with this? So the point is, Barkha, there is no military solution, and so when you talk about cracking down, okay if Pakistan is not cracking down enough, why can't the Americans win? Hundred and forty thousand soldiers in Afghanistan, the greatest millitary machine in the history of mankind, why have they not succeeded in 10 years? If I was the Prime Minister of Pakistan I would ask them, I said, why aren't they doing enough? Why haven't they succeeded? Why does the American Embassy get attacked? And is it possible that hundred and forty thousand American soldiers in Afghanistan cannot cope with 4 or 5000 Haqqani troops or whatever these Taliban militants are? I mean, are these 4-5000 Rambos strong enough to defeat hundred and forty thousand American troops? Does this make sense? Unless there is another reason and the reason sadly, Barkha, is the people of Afghanistan have never accepted foreign occupation. This has been the case with British, is the case with Russians. Both were super powers of their times. Even with the Mughals, you read the Mughal Empire, the amount of problems they had in Afghanistan. So this idea, this fairy tale they are trying to spread, that the only reason they are not succeeding in Afghanistan is because of 4 or 5000 Haqqani network, these rambos, is it possible?
Barkha: But Imran, from an Indian perspective, since you've spoken about radicalisation and fanatics in your country, Indians look at Pakistan and say why can't the Pakistan goverment, forget the Americans, why can't the Pakistan government crack down on a group like Lashkar-e-Taiba? I've asked you this repeatedly. What would you say to that?
Imran Khan: Okay then, what I tell the Indians. I would tell the Indians that they should be the first ones to say, start negotiating with the people of the tribal areas where this fighting is going on. Barkha, there are about a million armed men in the tribal areas. People don't understand the tribal areas of Pakistan. It's the most unique part, there is no place in the world like tribal areas. Far more British soldiers died in Waziristan than in the whole of India. For 80 years the British could not pacify the tribes. Every man is a warrior, every man carries a gun and so you are talking about the million people there, armed men. So I have been crying out aloud, that look for God sake, win these people over to your side, you will win the war. You push them by collateral damage, which is what we are doing when we bomb villagers with artillery, with air-force, with helicopter gun ships, your killing the women and children, what are they going to do, they become Taliban. So all this insane and immoral action is doing is, it's strengthening them. So win them to your side to win the war. If you keep doing this current policy, as Einstein said, madness is doing the same thing over and over again. And expecting a different result, they must change strategies and once they settle the tribal areas, win them over to their side, isolate the real terrorist and for India the worrying are, what were the Jahadi groups? That's what worries India, for the Americans, its Al-Qaeda. So the West is Al-Qaeda, for the Indians is the old Jehadi groups. You can only tackle them once you stop this war. Once you pacify the tribes, when you win them over, only then if you isolate them, you win the war. At the moment this is Christmas for these real terrorists. All we are doing is we are benefitting the real terrorist and believe me this is a never ending war. This is not going to end. This will go on and on, and you will have the recruits, both for the Jehadi groups, here there will be recruits for Al-Qaeda.
Barkha: But can Pakistan assert this kind of equal sovereignty as long as it continues to be economically dependent on America for aid? Is Pakistan, you believe, ready and able to live without American aid?
Imran Khan: I am afraid whenever there is a commission of the mess we have made in this country, 35000 Pakistanis dead, 70 billion dollars lost to the economy. To the people total American aid is 20 billion dollars. Whenever there is an enquiry into the mess, you will find that our ruling elite has done this for dollars, for American dollars and American aid. They have brought the country to this state, and you are absolutely right, unless and until a country collects its own taxes, it balances its budget, this fiscal expenditure and its revenues, unless we do that we will never be sovereign. So at the moment there is a move in the resolution, by the way, the all parties conference resolution, it's said that we will have to collect taxes and fight corruption and not have aid. Because this aid, now there is a realization in Pakistan, it has come at a great cost, and so you are absolutely right, as long as we keep begging for money, we will not be sovereign.
Barkha: I want you to talk a little bit, as we reach the end of this interview, about your personal transformation. For many people who knew you in your heyday as a cricketer, you were also sort of known as a sub continental dreamboat, you were often called a playboy. You write a little bit in the book about your previous hedonism and then you write about regretting the hurt you caused, finding the transitory relationships no longer satisfied you. When you look back at those years, do you feel you made a number of personal mistakes or do you believe it was the rights of passage, those were good years, you had a lot of fun while they lasted and now you are a different Imran Khan?
Imran Khan: Well you know Barkha, as I said hindsight is 20-20. We will not be what we are if we don't make mistakes. If we weren't meant to make mistakes, God would have made us angels. So we evolve over a period of time. Successful people are those who learn from their past, but don't have regrets, because we are all human beings. So I would like to think that I have learnt from my past, whatever my past was, a lot of people envied. I am more comfortable in my present than anyone I know. There is no part of my past I would want to go to. So if I had to live again, may be I would do things differently, but that's not how we are, that's not how life is. We all make mistakes, we learn from that, we evolve and we move forward. For me the greatest thing what I learnt most in my life, was that you only loose when you give up and the hallmark of a champion is how does he cope with bad times, not how he deals with good times. How does he cope with the bad times and the greatest in our holy book Koran, greatest virtue is patience in adversity, the ability to sustain the bad times. You know not to compromise your dreams when the chips are down, not to demoralise from the defeat, learn from the defeats, so I think I have learnt in life, I think I have progressed in life
Barkha: You know, but in this very serious book there are also some very funny moments. And for me personally a very funny anecdote that you share which I didn't know was, Nawaz Sharif, as the Chief Minister of Punjab, insisting on opening the side. Imran, you know in this very serious book there are some light-hearted and very interesting anecdotes at least for someone like me who didn't know them. And one of the funniest moments is your describing how Nawaz Sharif as Chief Minister of Punjab decided he wanted to not just do the toss for open the side against the West Indies. So tell us a little bit about that and how you coped with it.
Imran Khan: We were playing a practice match against the west Indies. Now this is the West Indies of the '80s. Never in the history of cricket was there a fast bowler, killer machine that they produced. I mean you never had fast bowlers in that team of quality. so there was a practice match before the World Cup of 87. They started to call it a Chief Minister's 11. So you know this was all done in the subcontinent, President level or Chief Minister. And suddenly we see the Chief Minister arriving. Nawaz Sharif and then he not only Captains the team, he opens the batting against the West Indies. Now the West Indies didn't know who he was and Harry is walking, (and contrast a professional cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz, walking with his chest guard, his arm guard. Nawazji walking with the floppy hat! So I swear am not joking. I actually thought we would have the headlines next day would be "Chief Minister killed by the cricket ball". You know I actually thought it could be. Anyway, that was, but he actually did open the innings.
Barkha: But you know I've got to end with a funny question, because your former wife writing this article on you,6 says you have an excellent sense of humour. And then she goes onto say that it's hard to overestimate the importance of hair in Pakistan. It is a symbol of tantalising female sexuality, and says that American Pakistani hair transplant specialist has recently moved his practice to Islamabad. So any thoughts on that?
Imran Khan: Well, in her case she always thought, I coloured my hair, because she thinks that my hair should have more got white. I am almost 60, she thinks I am colouring my hair, and believe me in 9 years of marriage, every now and then she would check, are you colouring your hair. Because you know she couldn't believe that I still have a very few white hairs. Although she gave me a few white hairs, keep telling her, for some reason, she couldn't comprehend that. Because in Pakistan the people do colour their hair, people sort of don't like to have white hair. So she thought I was also colouring my hair.
Barkha: And finally you end the book with saying that for the first time you believed that Tehreek-e-Insaf is an idea whose as time has come. How confident are you that the electoral results the next time around will be very different for you. I know you have quoted a few poll results. How confident are you personally?
Imran Khan: Barkha, my 21 years was winning and losing. You know I knew how to cope with the defeat in the end. But I also knew when I was going to win. I had this killer instinct. To be a champion in a any sport you have to have a killer instinct. It is killer instinct means you know when your enemy or your opposition has made a mistake. Or you know now you got them on the run. Nothing, Barkha, now none of these parties will be able to stop them. I can tell you if you are a betting person put money on us. Nothing will be able to stop this party, because the entire youth of this country now is with our party. And you know the polls do not reflect the young population at the moment. Because the entire under thirties of Pakistan want a change and the only party for change is Tehreek e Insaaf. So you will see what happens in the elections, because it's not a flood, it is a tsunami that is coming.
Barkha: Thank you
Story first published:
October 06, 2011 16:14 IST