Imran Khan
Imran Khan, former Prime Minister of Pakistan Image Credit: REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro/File Photo

They were with him long before he came into power. Some longer than others. They worked with him when his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, contested elections in 2013 and 2018. From August 2018 to April 2022, they worked under his leadership as part of his government, doing their best to make his ideal of a Naya Pakistan a reality. Prime Minister, now former, Imran Khan and his cabinet members and parliamentarians.

They understand Khan’s ideology better than most people who claim to know him. Their political and professional closeness to Khan endows them with a profound understanding of Imran Khan the administrator, Imran Khan the leader. Having worked with him at close quarters, they have a unique knowledge of Khan’s passion and dedication to make Pakistan a country that is empathetic, peaceful, inclusive, fair, self-reliant, and prosperous.

I posed one question to a few of those who have served in the top positions in the cabinet and government of Prime Minister (now former) Khan: what was the best thing about working with Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan?

Some terse, some more expressive, what they said about their leader, their prime minister, is a microcosm of the viewpoints of all those who worked with Imran Khan during his prime ministerial tenure—August 2018 to April 2022.

Ali Haider Zaidi

Former Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs

There is more than one thing. The first thing was he never interfered after he had assigned me a task. Before I took over the Ministry for Maritime Affairs, he said to me that it was known to be one of the most corrupt ministries and that I had to fix it, organize it, and deliver results. And he let me do whatever I thought was the right thing for a particular issue. I kept him posted, and alhamdulillah, the work done in the Maritime Ministry in the last four years is what had never been done before. It is now one of the most important and talked-about ministries.

Khan makes you feel motivated; there is this energy that you get when you meet him and when you work with him. The man never gets tired. He makes you want to work, we used to go to work with a lot of heart. That was Imran Khan, one of the greatest leaders of this century. InshaAllah, Khan will be back, stronger, more experienced, and with a new zeal and passion.

Ali Mohammad Khan

Former Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs

The one great feeling working with Prime Minister Imran Khan was that everything we were doing, we were doing it for Pakistan. Khan never shied away from taking bold decisions; he had out of the box solutions for complicated issues, and he had the moral calibre to break the status quo. Middle class people like me were empowered in the sense that we became partners in the process of decision making of the state.

Aon Abbas Buppi

Senator, Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on E-Commerce, Former Managing Director Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal

I can write an essay on Prime Minister Imran Khan, but what I like the most about my leader is that he is a daring person who believes nothing is impossible; he challenges everything. He is like a teacher who trains us like his children—what to say, how to do it, how to build our legacy. Khan is accessible to all of us, listens to all of us, does not judge people, and takes everything as it is. He is clean within, so he thinks everyone is like him.

Asad Umar

Former Federal Minister for Finance, Former Federal Minister for Planning, Development, Reforms and Special Initiatives

The best thing about working with Prime Minister Imran Khan was that there was focus on only one objective the entire time: how to make Pakistan better and improve the lives of the citizens of Pakistan.

Chaudhry Fawad Hussain

Former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Former Federal Minister for Law and Justice

Imran Khan is fearless. In my opinion, his biggest quality is that he doesn’t shy away from taking courageous decisions. Moreover, he is very upright, honest, a dervish. Working with him was really an honour, I would say.

Dr Faisal Sultan

Former Federal Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulation and Coordination, Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health

It was a privilege and an honour to work with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The best thing was to have his confidence and support and his focus on pro-public, pro-reform initiatives without any [external] pressure or influence. His passion and honest desire to improve things was infectious.

Hammad Azhar

Former Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue, Former Federal Minister for Energy

The best thing about working with Imran Khan is his mentoring. He changes how you think, set goals and approach challenges. He believes and demonstrates that any goal is achievable provided one continuously learns, adapts, and never gives up. And he’s fearless!

Maleeka Ali Bokhari

Former Member of National Assembly, Former Parliamentary Secretary Law and Justice

The best thing about working with Prime Minister Imran Khan was his compassion, his empathy for everyone. All the programmes that he led as the prime minister of Pakistan were centred on protecting the rights of the most vulnerable. The Ehsaas programme was a testament to that belief, that ideology, that characteristic of compassion. Panagahs [shelters] that he opened, and the way he would eat [in a panagah] as an equal with the poorest people of the country was a moment of pride for me as his parliamentarian.

Imran Khan spearheaded some of the finest legislations of Pakistan for the females of Pakistan. He always talked about about women without inheritance rights, and every time he spoke to me about that issue, it was with a great deal of pain. I could see it in his eyes. The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Act 2020, which gives the office of Ombudsman across the country the power to intervene in possession and property rights, is Imran Khan’s landmark achievement, and something I am very proud of.

The Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021 is another special law that has no parallel in South Asia. It is against all forms of discrimination that take place against women in courts; now we have a law in place that provides the hope for some form of real justice for victims of sexual violence. The Legal Aid & Justice Authority Act 2020 is also a huge achievement.

Everything that we did in Prime Minister Khan’s government, under his leadership, was centred on compassion. It was centred on protection of fundamental rights. I have worked with him for ten years, before and after he became the prime minister of Pakistan. The way Khan displays empathy and compassion, I have not seen that in any other leader across the globe. For me that was his hallmark, for me it was something to be take pride in. I will always remember it as my greatest achievement—being his MNA, his Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice.

Malik Amin Aslam

Former Federal Minister for Climate Change, Former Special Advisor to Prime Minister

In my case, the best thing was the passion for nature that I shared with Prime Minister Imran Khan, and his unflinching support to stand up for what was right. He was always accessible and backed me up while exploring new visions and innovative frontiers, such as blue carbon or the living rivers initiative or nature bonds, which he had a rare ability to quickly grasp. Khan as prime minister was also solidly supportive of pushing the boundaries when it came to expanding protected areas, standing up to timber and land mafias, and protecting forest community rights against the powerful cabals in our country.

Most importantly, Prime Minister Khan inspired me to always dream big, like the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme, and then single-mindedly pursue the dream with meticulous planning and commitment. He would never shy away from big dreams or be fearful of the challenges.

It has been a rare privilege to have served under a leader who had absolutely no personal angle in governance decisions except backing what needed to be done.

Dr Sania Nishtar

Senator, Former Federal Minister of State, Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Poverty Alleviation, Founder of Ehsaas, Pakistan

There were a number of hard decisions that I had to take during our tenure, and Prime Minister Imran Khan always supported me on those decisions. He always sided with what was right.

Zartaj Gul Wazir

Former Minister of State for Climate Change

As an ex-cabinet minister of Imran Khan’s government and as a young woman in Insaf Student Federation [the official student wing of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf], where I started my politics, I think the best thing about working with Imran Khan is that he is very brave. He is very competent and can foresee the future of Pakistan. Once he makes up his mind that something is for the good of Pakistan—be it the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami or the Ehsaas programme or empowerment of women or an independent foreign policy—he is fully committed. Khan has a future-focused approach; he doesn’t just think about today, he thinks about the next fifty or hundred years of Pakistan.

One very important thing about working with Khan was what we couldn’t imagine when we started working with him: that someday we, young political workers, would be members of a federal cabinet. The most important role of a great leader is that he creates leaders, and Prime Minister Khan created young leaders. I think it is very impressive that you create an environment for people to advance on merit. Only a man who has the conviction of his faith can take bold and honest decisions, it is not something an ordinary person can do. Khan has nerves of steel.

Sayed Zulfikar Bukhari

Former Special Assistant to Prime Minister for Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development

The best thing about working with Imran Khan was that he was absolutely clear in his vision. If you brought to him an out of the box idea but it was in the benefit of the country, you knew he would go ahead with it. Secondly, having observed some of the world’s best governance practices, he was quite well-versed in those matters, and was familiar with the areas in which other nations had done well. Thirdly, one of the best things about working with Imran Khan was that after having a meeting with him, you always felt inspired. Whether it was a one-on-one session, a multi-person meeting, or a gathering of ten thousand people, he was always inspirational. Khan always inspires.

Imran Khan thought of nothing except Pakistan. I have never seen someone who bleeds green the way he does.