Khan moves from cricket star to pious, anti-poverty reformer

In this photo provided by the office of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, delivers his address in Islamabad, Pakistan, Thursday, July 26, 2018. Khan declared victory Thursday for his party in the country's general elections, promising a "new" Pakistan following a vote that was marred by allegations of fraud and militant violence. (Tehreek-e-Insaf via AP)
FILE - In this April 1992 file photo, Imran Khan, second from right, captain of the Pakistan cricket team offers World Cup to Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif during a hosted dinner in honor of the Cricket team celebrating their victory in Islamabad, Pakistan. He won the cricket World Cup for Pakistan in 1992 when the country's prime minister was Nawaz Sharif. Twenty six years later the charismatic Imran Khan is all set to become the first cricketer in the world to be elected as a country's prime minister in Wednesday, July 25, 2018 elections. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - In this March 31, 2002 file photo, Former Pakistani cricket stars and winners of World Cup 1992, Imran Khan, left, and Javed Miandad chat at a reception to celebrate the 10 years anniversary of victory at the World Cup 1992, in Lahore, Pakistan. "Honesty is the one word which sums up Imran Khan's whole life," Khan's long-time teammate, Javed Miandad, told The Associated Press. Khan's crowning glory was to drive the team to its first and only Cricket World Cup triumph in 1992. He immediately retired from Pakistan duty at age 39, opened a cancer hospital in memory of his mother two years later, and launched his political party, Tehreek-e-Insaf four years later. On Thursday, July 26, 2018, Khan's party took a commanding lead in the Pakistan general election and he was set to become the first international cricketer in the world to be elected as a country's prime minister, considered the second toughest job in Pakistan. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary,file)

ISLAMABAD — As former cricket star Imran Khan claimed victory Thursday in Pakistan's parliamentary election, he has promised to fight corruption and help millions of impoverished citizens.

He says he also wants good relations with his neighbors and the United States, but also has leveled criticism against them.

Once a celebrity playboy, Khan now embraces conservative Islamic stands and keeps company with radical clerics who often espouse a philosophy that frightens Pakistan's minorities. He calls for an Islamic welfare state that provides progress and education for the poor.

Khan's stands on some key issues:


Pakistan's powerful military establishment has directly or indirectly ruled the country for most of its seven decades of existence. Khan dismissed widespread allegations of manipulation during the election campaign by the military and sidestepped discussion on its role in civilian affairs, by simply saying the army is Pakistan.


Khan has publicly expressed his admiration for the justice dispensed against women by "jirgas" — or councils of elders. These councils have banned women from voting; given children to old men to marry in order to settle disputes; and ordered a woman to be stripped naked and paraded through a village for a dishonor or crime committed by a male relative. Khan also has attacked Pakistan's political liberals and berated Western feminist ideals, saying it degrades motherhood.


Khan campaigned openly promising to support and defend Pakistan's blasphemy laws. Rights groups and minorities say the measures are often used to settle local scores. The laws, which carry an automatic death sentence, sometimes have incited mobs against entire neighborhoods at the merest suggestion that blasphemy has been committed.


Khan has been critical of the U.S. -led invasion of neighboring Afghanistan and drone strikes that have killed militants — and sometimes civilians — on the Pakistani side of the border. He says former Pakistani leaders have sold out the country's pride for billions of dollars in U.S. aid. He says he wants good ties with Washington but on an equal footing, calling the current relationship one-sided.


Khan denies allegations by the U.S. and Afghanistan that Pakistan assists or harbors Taliban militants, and his statements on the issue mirror the flat-out denials by the army.


Khan has been a strong proponent of talks with Pakistan's Taliban and has said the emergence of the group in the border areas is a reaction to the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan. He said that the presence of international troops in Afghanistan has hurt Pakistan and strengthened the militants.


Khan says he wants good relations with neighboring India but said the core of their differences is the disputed Kashmir region, which is divided between the two nuclear powers and claimed by both. Khan says there is a desperate need for an international reckoning of the widespread human rights violations being committed by Indian troops against Kashmiris. He said the two countries have to end the tit-for-tat accusations.

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