February 20, 2024

‘I’ve devoted myself to Imran Khan’: Contained in the world of a Pakistani superfan

ISLAMABAD: Rafiq Khan fled his house in Quetta as a child in 1989 and traveled practically 1,000 kilometers to the japanese metropolis of Lahore to fulfill Imran Khan, three years earlier than he led Pakistan to Cricket World Cup victory and practically thirty years earlier than the sports activities hero-turned-politician would turn out to be prime minister.

For a number of years after, Rafiq, now 45, lived at Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore and devoted his life to the cricketer. He enrolled at school whereas persevering with to stay at Khan’s home, taking part in cricket and later working for the Shaukat Khanum Most cancers Hospital that Imran based in 1994, and as a volunteer for his political campaigns after he launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) get together in 1996, changing into a main instance of the superfans who’ve flocked to Khan via the many years.

“I got here to Imran Khan in 1989 and I’ve been with him since then,” Rafiq instructed Arab Information in an interview this week on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s central secretariat in Islamabad.

“Mainly, I got here to him on account of cricket after which when he began the get together [Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf], I remained with him, making my contribution.”

This mixture of images, created on January 26, 2024, reveals Rafiq Khan with former prime minister Imran Khan. Rafiq, 45, devoted his life to the cricketer-turned-politician and has been with him since 1989. (Picture courtesy: Rafiq Khan)

Rafiq moved to Islamabad when Khan started operating his get together’s affairs from the Pakistani capital in 2002-2003, dwelling on the get together workplace for greater than a decade, earlier than transferring right into a rented home on Khan’s path. The ardent Khan fan, who refused to marry or be a part of his household’s enterprise in Quetta, at the moment manages the PTI’s central secretariat in Islamabad.

Sociologists say the phenomenon of political superfans, with an “obsessive admiration” for his or her political leaders, exists world wide.

“The phenomenon of being political tremendous followers isn’t distinctive to Pakistan or any particular political get together, however as Imran Khan has been a heart-throb since his cricket days, due to this fact it’s apparent that he would have diehard followers,” Dr. Aisha Shahzad, a professor of political science on the Lahore Faculty for Girls College, instructed Arab Information.

This undated photograph reveals a cricket bat signed by former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan for his fan and follower Rafiq Khan. Rafiq, 45, devoted his life to the cricketer-turned-politician and has been with him since 1989. (Picture courtesy: Rafiq Khan)n

“Individuals get connected to their political leaders and dedicate their lives to them once they begin loving their ideologies and private traits like honesty, bravery and compassion.”

Rafiq has definitely devoted his life to Khan.

“I’ve 5 brothers and 5 sisters, all of them are well-settled,” he stated. “Amongst all of them, I’m alone as a result of I haven’t married. [I have] no different enterprise, simply PTI and Imran Khan. I’ve devoted myself to Imran Khan.”

Rafiq stated he had Khan’s private telephone quantity and has all the time had the liberty to straight name him and “talk about issues.” He final met Khan in June final 12 months, when the previous premier was in Lahore for Eid Al-Adha celebrations and round two months earlier than he was jailed after being convicted in a graft case..

On this undated photograph Rafiq Khan (left), the follower of former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan, gestures for {a photograph} with Khan at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. Rafiq, 45, devoted his life to the cricketer-turned-politician and has been with him since 1989. (Picture courtesy: Rafiq Khan)

Khan is at the moment behind bars and disqualified from operating in Feb. 8 elections however Rafiq stated he was nonetheless a “model” within the nation.

“[Imran Khan] was a model then and a model now,” Rafiq stated, as he prayed for Khan to be launched from jail quickly.