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Interview with Imran Khan

Aired February 18, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imran Khan -- the legendary cricket captain turned politician is one of the most recognizable faces in Pakistan.

In 1992, he led the country to its first and only cricket World Cup victory, becoming an instant national hero.

He retired immediately, putting his efforts into building a world class cancer hospital, after his mother died from the disease.

He later moved into politics, leading Pakistan's Movement for Justice Party.

Throughout Khan's life in the public eye, his personal life has also been in the spotlight. Known as a playboy in the 1980s, he settled down and married English socialite Jemima Goldsmith in 1995, a choice that ruffled feathers at home in Pakistan. The couple has since divorced.

A sports legend, natural leader and a true global icon, Imran Khan is our Connector of the Day.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Becky spoke to Imran Khan, our Connector. And she avagat -- she began by asking him why he thought his party could make a difference.


IMRAN KHAN: I think Pakistan is ready for a change, and especially the youth. Now, bear in mind that 65 percent of Pakistanis are under the age of 25. And it's the young people who basically are -- are sick of the old politics or the -- the old political parties.

And I think that's where our party comes in, because if you do a survey in all the universities in Pakistan and amongst the young people, overseas Pakistanis, the number one party today is Tehreek-e-Insaf, which is our party, Movement for Justice.

ANDERSON: How do you respond to the return or the potential return to Pakistani politics of Pervez Musharraf?

He was our Connector of the Day last week and he suggested he would be interested in a return to politics.

KHAN: Well, the only reason Musharraf is thinking of staging a come back is because the mess he has left behind. It is -- it is -- things have deteriorated so much in Pakistan today -- and that's thanks to Musharraf. And now we have a criminal sitting as our president thanks to Musharraf, who has made a complete mess of this country.

So if Musharraf is thinking that he can stage a come back, it's only because things now -- his era looks relatively better. But I am afraid if he comes to Pakistan, there are going to be plenty of criminal cases against Musharraf.

ANDERSON: All right. We've got questions on cricket and politics coming up from the viewers here.

Dinesh asks this of you: "As a politician, you must understand the Pakistani mind set." He says: "Why is there so much hatred amongst Indians and Pakistanis today? And how do we overcome this unnecessary hatred?," he says.

KHAN: It's very unfortunate. The -- there were -- there was a -- a few years back, there was a chance that the countries were moving closer. We had cricket matches between the two countries and Pakistan lost in Pakistan. And you saw Indian flags in -- and on Pakistani cricket grounds, which I thought I would never see in my lifetime.

So things were getting better. And then suddenly Mumbai happened. And, sadly, we are back to square one.

So the -- I think the people of both countries are desperate that we live like normal neighbors, we have peace. The problem is political. Actually, it's specific to Kashmir. Kashmir remains the each one of contention.

ANDERSON: James asks: "How can the increasing radicalization of Pakistan be reversed?" and he says: "When you become president, how will you reverse this disturbing trend?"

KHAN: We need not have had all this bloodshed going on in Pakistan. Last year, there were 500 blasts in our country, more than in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it's only because Musharraf, under pressure from the Americans, sent the Pakistan Army in the tribal areas. And what we then saw was militancy growing every year. The more military operations, the more militancy.

And so today, the country is getting radicalized.

ANDERSON: Imran Khan is your Connector of the Day today.

Imran, let's leave politics and get onto cricket, although perhaps one never leaves politics when one is talking about cricket in Pakistan.

Mudassir asks: "Why leave the cricket world the way you did?

You were a Pakistani hero. And for some, you still are. Look what's happening to Pakistani cricket today. It is a joke," he says.

KHAN: Basically, Pakistan has been run on an ad-hoc basis and so has our cricket. And cricket is not an institution. The cricket board should be an institution.

Now, how does it go wrong?

The president of the country appoints the chairman of the cricket board. The president of the country usually knows zero about cricket. So the only qualification of the chairman of the cricket board is that the president likes him or the president has chosen him. That's where things start going wrong.

So the cricket runs on an ad-hoc basis because the moment the president goes or the government changes, so does the chairman of the board.

ANDERSON: I have another one from Mani on cricket. He says: "Shahid Afridi was banned for two games for ball tampering." He says: "What credibility does a team have left after such a blatant and mindless act by a captain?"

Would you have moved on that?

KHAN: Well, look (INAUDIBLE)...

ANDERSON: Or were you doing that?

KHAN: -- probably people don't realize, I was -- I was -- I was in a court case involved -- this was all about ball tampering. And basically my plea in the court case was that ball tampering was part of cricket. It was just the degree that varied. I mean Shahid has really...

ANDERSON: It's just whether you get caught, isn't it?

KHAN: -- barely crossed that...

ANDERSON: It's just whether you get caught?

KHAN: -- that level of ball tampering.

Well, oh, if you've really crossed that limit, you know, which Shahid Afridi did. But basically, I mean, you know, ball tampering has been part of cricket. It's -- it's sort of more gamesmanship. And -- and, by the way, when I first started playing cricket, nobody would mention ball tampering and it was being done all the time. So Shahid Afridi really has been punished. Yes, he should not have done it. Yes, it was wrong. Worse to be caught like that. But I think he's been punished enough.

ANDERSON: Curious George asking you simply this. He's got one question: "How do I be a ladies man like you?"

KHAN: Uh, don't try too hard, George. Just take it easy.



FOSTER: Imran Khan speaking to Becky earlier.