Is Jemima Goldsmith Muslim

Pakistan - election winner Imran Khan: From Playboy to Premier

Election winner Imran Khan: From Playboy to Premier

Imran Khan used to play cricket, partying with the British upper class and defending the death penalty for blasphemy.

For Imran Khan, after 22 years, his lifelong dream of becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan has finally come true. For a long time, the 65-year-old ex-cricketer had only been laughed at for his political ambitions. Now the former jet-setter, who speaks with a British accent, studied in Oxford and partied with the British upper class, is on the verge of becoming head of government of the Islamic Republic, where 90 percent of the population is poverty-stricken and terror and radical Islam are the norm Everyday life includes such as chicken biryani and tea.

Born in 1952 in Lahore, East Pakistani, Khan, who had already hoped for an election victory in 2013, promises his supporters a “Naya Pakistan” (new Pakistan). But little will be new about it. Because before Khan can change Pakistan, Pakistan changed Khan. The former bon vivant with dark eyes and a challenging look has radically bid farewell to his liberal views, which he frankly expressed a few years ago.

Preferred by the military

Ten years ago, Khan was still fighting Pakistan's powerful military, corruption and the US air strikes. Now he is driving a tough populism that seems to stop at nothing. His proximity to radical Islam earned him the nickname «Taliban Khan». During the election campaign, he upheld Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws, which provide for the death penalty for blasphemy and insulting the prophets. He also made a front against religious minorities, namely the Ahmadis and Shiites, whom he denied to be real Muslims.

Khan is less openly showing off his new closeness to Pakistan's powerful army, but there is little doubt that the leadership at headquarters in Rawalpindi would prefer the politically less experienced Khan to their opponent Nawaz Sharif, who has already served three times as prime minister of the country. Even during the election campaign there was massive pressure on the media to report positively about Khan and his party.

The military, which has been pulling its strings in the background in Pakistan for several years, wants to enjoy political power without responsibility. The army chiefs were happy to show up when it came to playing the benevolent father of the country in times of need. In economic crises and political debacles, however, the civilian government is always to blame for the misery.

With Princess Diana in Lahore

However, Khan is also considered vain, unreliable and impulsive, which the army leadership might not like in the end. "Imran is the new ex-prime minister," scoffed Pakistanis on Thursday. Imran Khan's change is also evident in his private life: his first wife, Jemima Khan, née Goldsmith, is Jewish and heiress of a billion-dollar fortune who is at home in London society. It stands for Khan's liberal, cosmopolitan phase when he walked through Lahore with Princess Diana and won the Cricket World Cup for Pakistan.

Khan's second marriage to British-Pakistani Rehman Khan, a fun-loving BBC weather announcer who often wore a headscarf, ended in 2015 after just a few months. Wife number three, Bushra Maneka, a fortune teller and Khan's spiritual advisor, appears in public only veiled from head to toe and is said to be deeply religious.