Prime Minister Imran Khan has been declared “Man of the Year” from the Muslim world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with an international Islamic non-governmental, independent institute headquartered in Jordan.
Professor S. Abdallah Schleifer, Professor Emeritus of Journalism at the American University in Cairo and chief editor of “The Muslim 500” project, while declaring the premier the “Man of the year”, wrote that his quest for peace with neighbouring India entitled him for the honour.
Professor Schleifer, in his note, drew attention to the PM Imran’s career as a cricketer and paid him rich tribute. “If The Muslim 500 was in print back in 1992 and I was then chief editor I would have nominated Imran Khan as our Muslim Man of the Year because of his brilliant performance in cricket, which culminated in Pakistan winning the 1992 Cricket World Cup — a sport I have always admired for its combination of elegance and intense competitive play.”
“I also was touched when Khan launched a successful fund raising campaign to establish a hospital devoted to both the care of victims of cancer as well as research,” the author wrote while discussing the prime minister’s later campaign for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.
“This was his magnificent response to the loss of his mother to cancer in 1985 and given Khan’s extraordinary popularity with Pakistanis both at home as well as among the large number of Pakistani expats along with his own, no doubt, generous personal contribution — he raised sufficient funds so that by 1994 the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital opened its doors in Lahore. 75 per cent of its patients receive free-care.”
The author in his report also highlighted the premier’s political struggle by writing, “Imran Khan became Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018 after 22 years devoted to building an opposition political party committed to reform; confronting Pakistan’s civilian political establishment over the issue of embedded corruption and mismanagement.”
However, it was Prime Minister Imran’s initiatives for durable peace with traditional arch-rival India that qualified him for the honour, according to Prof Schleifer.
“What is particularly to his credit is that upon taking office in August 2018, Imran Khan made it quite clear that one of his top priorities was to work for a lasting peace with India. He wanted to normalise relations through trade, and settling the Kashmir dispute.”
“Both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers. And with the three past examples of conventional armed conflict in mind the prime minster had to be more conscious than anyone in Pakistan that in face of India’s great depth in land, population and the size of its armed forces, conventional warfare was a route that would lead to disaster for Pakistan.”
The author remembered that in his first television broadcast as prime minister, “Imran Khan addressed not just the people of Pakistan and the world, but in particular India — Imran Khan declared that Pakistan wanted a lasting peace with India and ‘if it took one step forward, we would take two steps.”
“Imran Khan didn’t wait for that one step. A meeting between the Pakistani and Indian Foreign Ministers was arranged on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2018 but India cancelled the meeting,” he said, adding that in the same month, the premier also wrote the first of his three letters to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for dialogue and lasting peace. Modi did not respond.
“Khan writes that after Modi’s re-election in June, he congratulated him and expressed his hope that they could work together for peace, progress and prosperity in South Asia. One month later, Khan repeated his hopes in still another letter to Modi. Again Modi, as in all previous cases, chose not to respond.”
“So, this is Imran Khan’s great dilemma — how do you make a much desired lasting peace with a nation governed by those who have neither interest nor need to make a lasting peace with Pakistan, and against whom any form of war would be hopeless. The answer it would seem that Khan’s efforts must now focus on mobilising global opinion, to turn a RSS-led India a global pariah,” the author concluded.
The prime minister shares the most prominent Muslim in the world title with groundbreaking US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who has been named as the most prominent Muslim woman of the year by the institute.
Earlier this year, Prime Minister Imran had been listed among the ‘100 Most Influential People’ of 2019 by Time magazine.