Imran Ahmad Khan Niazi was born in Mianwali on November 25, 1952 to Ikramullah Khan Niazi Shermankhel and Shaukat Khanum. He is from the Niazi Pashtun Shermankhel tribe of Mianwali. His family is settled in Lahore, however, he still considers his background Pathan as per his autobiography (Warrior Race: A Journey Through the Land of the Tribal Pathans).
Imran attended Aitchison College and the Cathedral school in Lahore until he finished middle school, then entered the Royal Grammar School, Worcester, before completing his formal schooling with an undergraduate degree in economics from Keble College, Oxford.
While at University, Imran Khan was also the captain of the Oxford University cricket team in 1974. He and his mother, Shaukat Khanum, come from a cricketing family - the Burkis, with two of his cousins, Javed Burki and Majid Khan, also having played Test cricket for Pakistan.
He is the finest cricketer Pakistan has ever produced, who is among the finest all-rounders and greatest fast bowlers the game has ever seen. He played Test cricket for Pakistan between 1971 and 1992, and was captain of the national team when they won their maiden World Cup in 1992.
After retiring from cricket, Imran Khan founded the Shaukat Khanum Memorial cancer hospital & Research Centre in Lahore.
In 1997, he started a socio-political movement known as the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice). The main focus of his party is to bring justice to the people of Pakistan, largely via an independent judiciary. The party has Islamic overtones and is inspired partly by Imran Khan's renewed commitment to Islam.
As a politician, his vision is to turn Pakistan into a just society, based on humane values, by creating an independent and honest judiciary that will uphold democracy, protect human rights and ensure the rule of law and, by promoting a merit based system that provides equal opportunity for upward social mobility to the working classes. His political ideal is the famous poet-philosopher, Allama Dr Muhammad Iqbal.
Talking to Daily Telegraph of England about his political goal, Imran Khan said: "I want Pakistan to be a welfare state and a genuine democracy with a rule of law and an independent judiciary. We need decentralisation, empowering people at the grassroots."
He became a Member of Parliament for Mianwali in the October 2002 elections. He is very critical of the judicial system in Pakistan, which he says prevents accountability for the elite class. Initially he supported 1999 military coup of General Pervez Musharraf but late came in to the forefront against General Musharraf.
In 2005, as leader of his party Imran led a protest rally against the US-led coalition for allegedly desecrating the Holy Quran and made statements denouncing the Musharraf-Bush coalition. During the visit of US President George W Bush to Pakistan in 2006, he was the only politician to attempt to hold a rally against Bush. The rally was stopped and Imran Khan was detained by the police.
Imran Khan is also a special representative of UNICEF and Chancellor of Bradford University. His honours include Hilal-i-Imtiaz (Crescent of Excellence) in 1993 by the Pakistani government; Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford and Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1983.
In 1995 he married Jemima Khan, the daughter of the late British billionaire Sir James Goldsmith. Jemima Khan embraced Islam before she married Khan. They announced their divorce on June 22, 2004. They have two sons named Suleman Khan (born on November 10, 1999) and Qasim Khan. He is alleged to have a daughter out of wedlock with Sita White, daughter of Lord Gordy White, a few years before he married Jemima Goldsmith. A US judge ruled him to be the father of Tyrian White after he failed to appear for a DNA test.
Imran Khan is also the Chairman of the Mianwali Development Trust, which is building the Namal College in Mianwali as an associate college of Bradford University. The first phase of the college buildings has been completed.
Imran Khan, perhaps first Pakistani, is the Chancellor of the University of Bradford since December 7, 2005. He said the fifth Chancellor of the university and is also a patron of the Born in Bradford research project.
After imposition of the state of emergency by General Musharraf on November 3, 2007, Imran Khan was put under house arrest but his succeeded in slipping away. However, he was arrested from the University of Punjab campus in Lahore a few days later with help of the Islami Jamiat-e-Talba, student wing of Jamaat-e-Islami. On November 19, 2007, he let out the word through his party members and family that he had begun a hunger strike. He was one of the 3,000 political prisoners released from imprisonment on November 21, 2007.