The passing of Imran Khan, former Director of the Department of Public Information and the head of the Opposition’s Communications Unit, sent shockwaves throughout the country on Tuesday.
Khan is being remembered by persons across the country as one of the brilliant political minds who could have easily aspired to high political office because of his boldness and brilliance.
Recounting his moments with Khan, former Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo told the News Room on Tuesday that the “rising star”, who became popular during the last two election cycles in Guyana, could have easily become a Member of Parliament and minister of the government.
Khan lost his 14 days’ battle with COVID-19 on Tuesday after testing positive on September 14. He was hospitalised at the Infectious Disease Hospital along with his wife Tamara Khan who was discharged hours before he passed.
“He has been brilliant, bold and sometimes a little brash.
“He was my boy working as if he was sitting on my shoulder, giving advice, articulating government policy and vision,” a saddened Nagamootoo told the News Room during a telephone interview on Tuesday.
Khan and Nagamootoo became close during the 2011 elections. Five years later when the APNU+AFC Coalition would win the seat of government with Imran leading a team of young people to push the campaign on social media and other traditional mediums, he would secure the appointment of Director of DPI.
According to the former PM, it was one of the most successful and impacting appointments he made.
“It was the best, he sits on the top of the cream of brilliant, innovative people who come into your life.
“Though he was controversial and passionate about what he believes in, at the same time he was a team player,” the former Prime Minister said.
Nagamootoo said even after moving on from the post of PM, he maintained a close relationship with Khan and his family.
But the last time he would see the man in person would be June 2021 before leaving Guyana for an overseas trip. On his return in September, plans were made to meet Khan to “deliver the goodies” Nagamootoo brought for him.
Nagamootoo said even while Khan was hospitalised he would constantly reassure him that things were getting better.
“He would assure me that he was recovering. One morning he told me it was chaotic but later he said it was ok and back to comfy and I was all elated.
“I told him constantly that he got to hit this thing for six because I know his attachment to cricket and he assured me that this was definitely something he would hit beyond the boundary,” Nagamootoo said.
He decried the fact that Khan was unvaccinated but noted that he had a right to hope.
“Whether we like it or not, it might have exposed him to additional risk and for me, I cannot decide for people who have made choices but I always believe in the science.
“This thing is not a gimmick, we have to do what it takes to be on the safe side,” he added.
The News Room understands that Khan, 43, disclosed no underlying medical conditions to health officials although there are reports that he had an autoimmune deficiency.
It was only on Sunday that Khan posted on social media and thanked everyone for their support and prayers.
“Thank you for all your love, prayers, messages of encouragement and support. I am overwhelmed beyond explanation and I am in excellent spirits…Please be assured that I am fighting and there is no giving up. One Love”, he wrote.
The Leader of the Opposition Office has released a statement to remember him as a “true son” of Guyana.
His party, the Alliance for Change, has also issued a statement noting that Guyana was everything to him and prior to 2015 he re-migrated from Antigua to “contribute to the struggle” as he would often say.
“His unmatched creativity, knowledge of the digital media environment and excellent writing skills were seen in two election campaigns.
“Most importantly Imran loved the simple things in life, gaffing with ordinary citizens wherever he encountered them and was a true friend many. His passing is a tragic loss of monumental proportions to his AFC family,” the party said.
Prior to returning to Guyana, Khan worked for several years within the media unit and rose to the head of marketing and communications for Cricket West Indies.