Islamabad, Sept 4(ANI): Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan, now topping polls as the country's most popular politician, attributes his success to an anti-corruption theme that has finally caught on, and to television, an American newspaper has said.
In June, a Pew Research Center poll showed Khan scoring a 68 per cent approval rating, which crushed Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani (37 per cent favourable) and President Asif Ali Zardari (11 per cent), The Washington Post reports.
Pakistan had just one electronic media outlet until the government gave up its monopoly in 2003, and now, as Khan points out, "cable has gone everywhere," promulgating scores of channels and influential anchors, the report said.
The chat shows love to book him, and the cricketer-turned politician grants regular audiences to reporters, who travel winding, rutted roads into the Himalayan foothills to reach his 30-acre estate outside Islamabad, the report added.
According to the report, Khan exhibits all the moves required for combat on newsmaker shows: the hand chop, the balled fist, the flinging arms that dominate the territory within the camera's eye, and also the perfect sound bite, for example: "The government is protecting the criminals because the criminals are sitting in the government!"
Khan, founder-chairman of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf (PTI), is also acclaimed for his charitable works, including building the nation's only cancer hospital, which treats 75 per cent of its patients at no charge, the report said.
In a country known for a lack of transparency, he has made his finances an open book. By contrast, he says, the shameless tax evasion and the "mega-corruption" of status-quo leaders, past and present, have strangled Pakistan's economy, the report added.
"The system is destroying the people, but the politicians are getting richer than ever before," he says.
Khan was known as an "all-rounder" when he was a cricket star, and perhaps that could serve as a metaphor for his appeal, as he offers something for everyone.
"He strikes me as sort of a Ron Paul figure," says Karachi author H.M. Naqvi, who spent several years in Washington.
Like the Republican Texas congressman and presidential candidate, Khan "is very principled. There is no taint of corruption. And there is his anti-establishment message," Naqvi adds. (ANI)