Imran’s popularity has grown outside home base Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Islamabad, May 13 (IANS) Former Pakistan Prime Minister, cricketer-turned-politician and chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan is by far the most popular leader in Pakistan at the moment. Khan is someone whose popularity has seen massive gains not only in his powerhouse province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) but also across the country, a reality that many believe has given immunity to him over any and every wrongdoing that he may have committed.

KP has been Imran Khan’s power centre as he has retained the provincial government for two straight tenures (10 years). And now, with his anti-government and anti-establishment narrative, being strongly campaigned through public gatherings, strong social media campaigns and through the very simple fact that Khan is seen as the voice of the people and the whole country at large; Imran Khan’s popularity has now spread to all corners of the country.

In Pakistan’s largest province Punjab, Imran Khan enjoys a massive support among the masses, who many say have given a blind oath to everything that Imran Khan says and does. For many, Imran Khan is the only hope for and independent, proud and dignified Pakistan.

“Imran Khan’s popularity is undoubtedly not limited to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) anymore. He has diehard fans in Punjab, in Sindh and in Balochistan. Imran Khan is termed as their redline for his followers, majority of whom do not even see the very existence of Pakistan without him,” said senior political analyst Javed Siddique.

“This is a dangerous, sensitive and critical reality that persists in the hearts and minds of Khan’s followers. Imran Khan may not have a single solution to Pakistan’s problems, but he will always have a permanent place in the hearts and minds of the masses, who are even ready to risk everything for him,” added Javed Siddique.

Khan’s wings of popularity are also glaringly visible in Sindh and Balochistan as well where people come out on his call every time, be it for protest or celebrations. People respond to him, listen to him and stand by him.

One other reason for Imran Khan’s widespread support is the fact that he is the lone fighter against the country’s powerful military establishment and the dynastic political setup of other major political parties, which have been ruling the country for decades.

Imran Khan, since his ouster from power through a no-confidence vote against him in Parliament in April 2022, has emerged as a single-party strong resistance front against a 13-party coalition government and the military establishment.

“What Imran Khan is doing is something that no one else in the country’s history has been able to do. He is challenging the military establishment, the very people who nurtured him, prepared him as a politician and then did all to bring him into power. They are now facing his wrath for not coming to his rescue to remain in power, but also because the new army chief and his team has principally shut their doors for Imran Khan,” said Adnan Shauqat, senior political analyst.

“One other reason is the people see him as the hero, who would break the tried and tested feudalistic political system run by the political parties under dynastic family political setup, and leaders, who have compromised on the country’s growth, progress and its identity for personal gains,” he added.

“Imran Khan is the lesser evil, the celebrity image, the icon, the saviour and the only one who people see as the one who will or can make Pakistan heaven on earth. Something that has turned him from being only a political figure to someone who is followed and loved emotionally, heartedly, religiously and politically,” said Adnan Shauqat.

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