Frank Huzur engages Pakistan cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan in exclusive conversation.
(Frank Huzur is the official biographer of Imran Khan. His book, Imran Versus Imran-An Untold Story is scheduled to be published from London in 2010)
'ZARDARI IS A HIRED GUN. Pak Govt. Is Earning Blood Money'---IMRAN KHAN
The November 9th morning was not a clear cold morning with high wind lashing the streets of Lahore. Just a little before the daybreak, Imran Khan couldn't bear the raging ache in his lower abdomen. He was reeling in unbearable pain for the past six hours at 2, Zaman Park, his home in Lahore for the past four decades. His brother-in-law, Hafeezullah Khan Niazi and his sister, Naureen experienced cruel and cold shivers down their spine at the sight of Imran Khan in excruciating pain. The celebrated cricket legend-turned-chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf thanked his stars later for being in the right place and in right time. He found himself face to face with finest doctors of the cancer hospital he built in memory of his mother-Shaukat Khanum, sweating in cold, wintry morning. He sniffed beads of worry in their expression as they prepared to put him on general anesthesia.
Imran was diagnosed with obstructions in his small intestine. The doctors had no other choice but to go for full incision to clear the blockage. For a moment there was chill in the operation theatre over suspicion of cancerous signs. It was a scare, which was blown up sooner. Shaukat Khanum was also diagnosed with cancer of small intestine, so the apprehension was genuine for a moment or so. Imran looked into the eyes of doctors before dozing off for next couple of hours and said, "Look, I don't want to die in this condition. I want to die fighting like Tipu Sultan".
For a fitness fanatic like Imran, the other evening ahead of addressing his political workers in Model Town of Lahore he had sweated out for an hour at his favourite gym, Shape, just behind Qaddafi stadium, to undergo full-incision surgery was quite a shocker to his hundreds of thousands of supporters and 175 million Pakistani who look up to him as always in hope and despair alike.
The city of Lahore lurched from danger in the morning to crisis in the afternoon until the doctor emerged with triumphant smile on their faces to announce the success of the operation. I was in the milling crowd of thousands of people lingering in doubt on the lawn of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre. Forlorn faces crowded the hospital, more than one thousand cancer patients lodged everyday, offering bouquet of flowers and sticking 'get well soon' card to the walls and boards. The walls presented a huge mural of greetings, among others, from Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to school children of prep-school.
When I visited the recovery room of Imran Khan with my host, Mashhood Elahi Khan, an intellectual friend of Imran, a few days later, I found him in cheerful spirit, flipping through the pages of a biography of Jinnah-written by an Indian politician and former Union minister, Jaswant Singh. Also lying on the table beside his bed was Joan Collins' From Good to Great and a book on military history of Pakistan army.
Imran told me, "I was not scared. Sickness shows you what you are. Almighty Allah wants to get something important accomplished through me, so he is protecting me. I've surrendered to Him".
Six days later, he was discharged from the hospital to huge sigh of relief to his admirers and party workers alike. He agreed to share his views on wide range of issues at his Zaman Park home.
This is the first interview he took from any journalist or media outlets after the scaring illness.