Kapil Dev, a friend of Pakistan’s prime minister-elect Imran Khan and one of Indian cricket’s all-time greats, said he believes Khan can carry his country’s powerful military and intelligence agencies together to ensure Pakistan’s progress.
Khan was also “an excellent captain who carried his team together”, said Kapil Dev, who began his international career in Pakistan in 1978.
Kapil Dev, in an interview, referred to ties between New Delhi and Islamabad and said, if the “Koreas can come together, Germany can become one”, why can’t India and Pakistan have a better relationship? But he also insisted that improving cricketing ties would not be enough to improve relations between the neighbours. He unhesitatingly stated his faith in Imran Khan as a great captain, because he was “not a yes man”.
Painting a picture of Imran Khan as a man who may have led a flamboyant lifestyle (“his personal business”), Kapil Dev said it was hugely creditable that he had returned to Pakistan and joined politics and worked “very, very hard” for 22 years to achieve his goal.
“Most people only speak about reaching their goals, but Imran showed it can be done. It’s a great achievement that a fellow cricketer who played for his country, has become the top man in Pakistan,” Kapil Dev said.
‘Imran the cricketer showed character’
He told the story of how Imran was determined to change the international cricketing community’s impression in the 1980s that cricket was not played fairly in Pakistan. “In the early ‘80s when you went to Pakistan, people used to say Pakistani umpires won’t let you win. So Imran said, ‘I want neutral umpires’.
“It was a big step. A person who takes a step as big as that is someone with character. He showed character (and said), ‘Let the umpires come from England and Australia…anyone who wants to play in Pakistan should have neutral umpires’. That was a very big step,” Kapil Dev said.
The main reason he could do that, Dev said, was because Imran “wasn’t a yes man. He won’t be a yes man. I don’t know how much success he will get (as prime minister), but he has to make a team, like in cricket. He has to take everybody along”.
‘Imran can influence the army’
Asked about Imran Khan’s relationship with Pakistan’s powerful military establishment, Dev added, “Knowing him, I’m sure he will (be able to) carry the country. People look up to him, He has a huge personality. He has done good things, built a cancer hospital. He hasn’t compromised with any negative person. If he can just take the country together, and the army also.
“Either you take the army or the army takes you, there are two ways of looking at it. I personally feel he can influence the army and say, let’s grow Pakistan together,” Kapil Dev said, adding that he remembered Imran as a shy man, who changed over the years and put his stamp on Pakistani cricket.
He pointed out that Imran’s was a great achievement because Pakistani cricketers come from all parts of the country, they are “ruthless and aggressive”, “gutsy and emotional”. Imran had such strong leadership qualities that he was able to mould them together in one team. Kapil Dev even likened Imran Khan to a “dictator”, one who wanted his way and got it.
“When I first met him, he was very shy. He wasn’t ready to give his views. This was in 1978-79. Once he became captain of Pakistan, slowly he changed. Everybody realises one day who they are. When he became a captain, he was ready to give his views.” >