Imran Khan is a former international cricket star turned politician who became the first prime minister in Pakistan's history to be ousted in a vote of no confidence.

He was elected in July 2018 promising to fight corruption and fix the economy. But those pledges went unmet and the world's second largest Muslim country was gripped by financial crisis.

Just under four years after being elected, he was ousted as prime minister by his opponents in parliament. As well as the economy tanking, reports said he had fallen out of favour with the powerful military, a crucial behind-the-scenes player in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Mr Khan, 70, shows no signs of wanting to leave politics and has spent his time out of power addressing large rallies of supporters angry at his removal from office. He still commands considerable support – tens of thousands took to the streets in cities across Pakistan on the night he was ejected from power.

In November 2022, he was shot and wounded in an attack on a protest rally he was leading in the eastern city of Wazirabad. Aides said it was an attempt on his life, but police did not immediately confirm he had been the target.

The former PM had been leading a march on the capital, Islamabad, to demand snap elections.

The previous month, he'd suffered another setback when the election commission disqualified him from holding public office in a case he described as politically motivated. He'd been accused of incorrectly declaring details of presents from foreign dignitaries and proceeds from their alleged sale.

In May, Mr Khan was arrested on corruption charges, sparking widespread protests that plunged Pakistan deeper into political turmoil at a time when its economy is on life support and food prices are soaring.

The arrest was declared illegal, but in August he was taken into custody again after being found guilty of not declaring money earned from selling gifts he received in office.

He was sentenced to three years in jail, but denies the charges and says he will appeal.

Mr Khan's conviction has diminished any chance of a resolution between the former PM and the establishment, be it the government or the army.

Change candidate

Imran Khan had hoped to see out a full, five-year term, something no other prime minister had ever done in Pakistan – which has a history of coups and military rule.

But by late March 2022, a series of defections had deprived him of his parliamentary majority and the opposition pounced, tabling a motion of no confidence.

Mr Khan sought to circumvent the move by having parliament dissolved and calling a snap election, but the Supreme Court ruled this was in breach of the constitution. On 10 April the vote of no confidence took place and Imran Khan lost, his opponents having secured 174 votes in the 342-member house.

Opposition supporters celebrate outside the Supreme Court building after a court verdict in Islamabad on 7 April 2022Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Opposition supporters celebrated outside the Supreme Court after the court ruled the move to block a no-confidence vote was unconstitutional

He claimed that his political opponents were colluding with the US to bring about regime change because of his policies on Afghanistan, Russia and China. But he provided no evidence of this and Washington strongly denied any foreign interference.

Back in 2018 the populist Mr Khan had painted a vision of a "new Pakistan" as he swept to power after years playing second fiddle to more established parties.

The former cricket captain, now styling himself as a pious anti-poverty reformer, spoke of his dream of building an "Islamic welfare state" where wealth was shared. He made ambitious promises that included reforming the country's tax system and bureaucracy.

Instead, inflation soared, the rupee plummeted and the country became crippled by debt, stoking anger and criticism that Mr Khan had mishandled the economy.

He vowed not to seek International Monetary Fund (IMF) help but ended up negotiating a $6bn (£4.75bn) rescue bailout to address a balance of payments crisis. However, the first payment of $1.1bn (£872m) has not been released, pending the passage of what the Pakistani government called "painful reforms".

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Five things to know about Imran Khan (from 2018)

Long one of Pakistan's best-known faces internationally, Mr Khan struggled for years to turn popular support into electoral gains.

He launched his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in 1996 but it wasn't until the 2013 general election that it emerged as a serious player nationally.

Five years later a swing of epic proportions propelled him to power.

The PTI made huge gains in his rivals' Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif's bastion, Punjab province, which holds more than half of the 272 directly-elected National Assembly seats.

Mr Khan was seen as a "change" candidate, whose promise to raise a whole new class of clean politicians chimed with voters disillusioned with the old political order.

Pakistan's army Chief of Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa (left) at a military parade in Islamabad. Photo: 23 March 2022Image source, ReutersImage caption, Military chief Gen Bajwa (left) and Imran Khan were reportedly at odds over Russia's invasion of Ukraine

But he was also widely viewed as the favoured candidate of the military which – despite denials from both sides – was accused of meddling to turn opinion against his rivals.

Many observers now say his biggest problem is that he has lost the support of the generals who have dominated Pakistan since independence in 1947.

Civilian leaders who have sought to tackle some of Pakistan's root problems have found themselves on a collision course with the establishment in the past.

The PTI leader also found himself short of political friends. Far from cleaning up "dynastic politics", he is accused of sidelining opponents, with many jailed on corruption charges during his tenure. His enemies united to remove him.

Playboy to pious reformer

Imran Khan was born in 1952, the son of a civil engineer. He and his four sisters had a privileged upbringing in Lahore where he was schooled, before he studied at Oxford University.

His talent for cricket emerged during these years and led to an illustrious international career which spanned two decades, culminating in World Cup victory in 1992.

Imran Khan in the 92 World Cup, 27 March 1992Image source, Fairfax via Getty ImagesImage caption, Imran Khan led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 cricket World Cup

In his youth he also developed a reputation as a playboy on the London nightclub circuit, although he denies he ever drank alcohol.

After he led Pakistan to victory in 1992 he retired from cricket and went on to raise millions of dollars to fund a cancer hospital in his mother's memory.

That foray into philanthropy spawned a career in politics – and he shed his celebrity image.

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His pin-up looks and private life have made him a favourite of the world's media for decades.

Diana, Princess of Wales, is welcomed to Lahore by Imran and Jemima Khan in April 1996Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Imran Khan married Jemima Goldsmith, seen here with Princess Diana, in 1995

In 1995, at the age of 43, he married the 21-year-old British heiress, Jemima Goldsmith – the daughter of one of the world's richest men at the time, Sir James Goldsmith. The marriage produced two boys but was dissolved in 2004.

A second marriage in 2015, to journalist Reham Khan, lasted less than a year. The former BBC weather presenter alleges she was bullied by his supporters and wrote a tell-all memoir.

Mr Khan married again in a low-profile ceremony in 2018. His third wife Bushra Watto, a mother of five, was described as his spiritual adviser, and observers say the match plays well with his public shows of devotion to Islam.

Ms Watto later set up a trust that allegedly received land as a bribe from one of Pakistan's top real estate developers. This eventually led to the corruption charge that saw Mr Khan arrested this year.

Mr Khan was so conscious of reforming his playboy image that during his 2018 campaign, he cancelled an interview with a female Pakistani journalist on his jet. This was in order to avoid being seen with her when he disembarked.

'Taliban Khan'

As a politician Imran Khan publicly upholds liberalism, but at the same time appeals to Islamic values and anti-West sentiment.

On his watch, there was a significant rise in Islamist militancy in Pakistan, and religious extremists strengthened their position.

He has been criticised as sympathetic towards the Taliban, and branded "Taliban Khan" by opponents. In 2020 there was an outcry after he called Osama Bin Laden a martyr.

Pakistan – a long-time ally of the West, however reluctant in the "war on terror" – continued strengthening ties with China under his leadership. It abstained in the UN vote on Russia's invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

Tense relations with neighbouring India, Pakistan's historic rival, did not improve during his tenure.

Mr Khan can point to some successes.

Pakistan's Covid record has been the best in South Asia, and a poverty-alleviation programme made progress. He has also provided universal healthcare in two provinces – perhaps his most notable achievement.

While this could help Mr Khan in elections due by late this year, all eyes are on the corruption allegations against him. A conviction could disqualify him from running for public office, possibly for life.

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