Pakistan: Imran Khan delivers a 'dream' speech ahead of elections


Former cricketer and chairman of Pakistan's political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan gestures as he addressing a public meeting in Lahore on March 23, 2013. Cricket legend Imran Khan is expected to unveil his manifesto to become Pakistan's next prime minister at an election rally on Saturday, where turnout will be a key test for his chances of success.



Imran Khan, the celebrated Pakistani cricket star who has harbored higher political aspirations for several years, delivered a speech on Sunday which was reminiscent of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech.

"I dreamt about playing for Pakistan at the age of nine and I played for the national team at 18," said Khan while speaking at an election rally in Mingora, Swat. "I dreamt of making Pakistan the best cricket team and winning a world cup; it took 10 years and we won in 1992."

Khan, who leads Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party, explained how many of his dreams had come true.

Of his most recent dream, he said, "When I joined politics, I dreamt of Pakistani people rallying with me for a better Pakistan and on Oct. 30, 2011 the ‘tsunami’ took over Pakistan."

"Four months back, I dreamt of Pakistanis celebrating in the streets and I realized PTI had swept the general elections."

He told the people of Swat that his party would restore peace in the region, according to Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune. "The system of justice, which prevailed here before 1974, will be replicated," he said.

Khan also pledged that 25 percent of his party's tickets would be given to those under the age of 35.

As The New York Times reported in March, Khan has said he entered politics because he was concerned about the country's youth. The Times wrote:

Mr. Khan, 60, who retains his youthful swagger and athletic physique, is particularly popular with young Pakistanis, who form the core of his support and make up approximately 40 percent of the country’s registered voters. However, it was not clear how much of this adulation — which borders on the cultlike — would translate into electoral success.

Khan will be contesting the elections on May 11, and will face former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who returned to Pakistan after four years of self-imposed exile, at the polls.

Time noted that recent polls have shown the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz winning the highest number of seats. While Khan surged in the polls following a rally in Lahore in October 2011, he has since seen a dip.