10 Questions for Imran Khan

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Erik Tanner for TIME

In your book Pakistan: A Personal History, you say you were raised with English traditions and came to love your country later. Was that rediscovery mere political expediency?
If you look back at the subcontinent, the great leaders — Gandhi and Nehru in India, Jinnah and the great Iqbal in Pakistan — went through a similar experience. They left the Indian subcontinent, got a Western education and then began to look upon their own societies differently.

You were something of a playboy as a cricketer. What led to your more serious faith?
It was over a period of time. You know, there's religion and then there's faith. You can be a religious person but actually not have faith. Faith is really what changes you.

When you became Pakistan's cricket captain, you were quite shy. Why go into politics?
Your mission in life changes you. Before politics I was collecting money for a cancer hospital in Pakistan. Here was I, who used to find it a loss of dignity to ask even my father for money, going into the streets of Pakistan, collecting.

Do you think that the U.S. and Pakistan would get on better if the U.S. took up cricket?
It's a very strange relationship that we got into. The U.S. felt it was doing us a favor by giving us money. The people of Pakistan felt we were fighting the U.S.'s war and paying a huge price for it. We have more radicalization and anti-Americanism in Pakistan than ever.

Aren't you a little anti-American?
For anyone who has traveled as much as I have, it is not possible to be anti-American or anti-any whole nation. But I think that the U.S. took the wrong turn after 9/11. Nineteen criminals were elevated to holy warriors.

Your sporting prowess has not yet translated into a lot of political success. Why is that?
If political success meant getting into government, I could have done that 20 years ago, the first time I was offered ministership. But I want change in Pakistan. The whole idea was to fight the political mafias.

You're willing to negotiate with the Haqqani network, which sounds like what was tried in Swat. Would this be different?
Swat is part of Pakistan; it's not part of the tribal areas. Only 40 laws of Pakistan apply in the tribal belt. There was never a military solution there. We should be using what little influence we have to get the Haqqani network to the negotiating table.

Do you have confidence that cricket in Pakistan is clean?
I don't think Pakistani cricket is clean, but I think international cricket is not really clean, either. There's more money in cricket than ever. In two months, a regular player makes more money than I did in 21 years.

Is there going to be another Mrs. Imran Khan?
As things stand today, I do not have time to give to marriage. I was successful as a cricket captain because I had killer's instinct. I knew when the opposition was in my grasp. For the first time in 15 years, I feel that now. So my whole concentration is on politics.

Is your plan that you'll meet more women if you're elected? Like Nicolas Sarkozy?
Whatever happens, Sarkozy is not my model.