Imran Khan’s Failing Revolution

The Pakistani Populist Is Yet to Deliver

Imran Khan with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 2018. Jason Lee / Reuters

Six months ago, Imran Khan, the charismatic former cricket star, was elected prime minister of Pakistan. At first his victory seemed like a win for the military in its decades-long struggle for power with Pakistan’s civilian politicians—a contest that has kept the country perpetually weak and unstable. International observers and Khan’s domestic political rivals had accused the Pakistani military of meddling in the election to benefit Khan and his party, the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI). And in fact, the military likely did attempt to tilt the election toward Khan, via a crackdown on the media and harassment and intimidation, preferring the PTI to the rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), whose leader, the jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, had become increasingly willing to defy the military during his last years in office.

But even if Khan rose to power with the aid of Pakistan’s generals,

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