No ordinary divorce

Published: November 9, 2015
SHARES
Email
The writer is a London-based lawyer who tweets @ayeshaijazkhan

The writer is a London-based lawyer who tweets @ayeshaijazkhan

When Imran married Reham in January of this year he was, arguably, at the pinnacle of his political career. Some optimistically believed he was the prime-minister-in-waiting and Imran basked in this glory. Add to this his glamorous cricketing past and thus there was natural interest from the public in this celebrity’s private life. Both Imran and Reham, moreover, like media attention and did not appear perturbed by the constant coverage of their marriage ceremony. Shortly thereafter, they appeared on a show of a leading anchor, happily discussing their personal affairs and even lecturing on how to make a marriage work. Then they were featured on the cover of a lifestyle magazine known for celebrity gossip. Reham personally interviewed Imran for her own television show and asked him a number of questions about his decision to marry her. Unfortunately, one can’t exactly be the darling of the media in good times and expect to be left alone in bad times.

Imran divorced Reham over text amid furious rows: report

Hence, the question asked of Imran by journalist Arif Yousafzai in Peshawar, hinting at Imran’s inability to be a good judge of character both in his political and personal life was entirely legitimate. What was not justified was Imran’s visceral reaction, trying to browbeat the reporter into silence. In developed democracies, such questions are regularly asked of politicians and particularly in the US, there are countless examples of men dropping out of the presidential race because of indiscretions in their personal lives. These indiscretions have no direct bearing on politics, but simply raise the issue of whether the man in question is trustworthy or possesses sound judgment. Yousafzai’s question, therefore, was relevant. It may also surprise some in Pakistan to learn that although divorce is far more commonplace in the US than it is in Pakistan, with about 50 per cent of marriages ending in divorce there, Americans have nevertheless only ever elected one divorced president. Family values are an important topic in the US presidential race and though many Americans are divorced, they expect better from their leadership and hold them to a higher standard. Imran Khan’s hasty marriage and equally hasty divorce, therefore, isn’t an ordinary matter.

When Imran married Jemima Goldsmith, it was clear to many of us that this wasn’t the wisest choice for an aspiring politician. Think for a moment if David Cameron or Barack Obama had chosen to marry a Pakistani Muslim girl. Would the electorate still have voted for them? Certainly not in the numbers required to make it to the top slot. Inter-cultural marriages are harder to work out as well but when Imran and Jemima split, Imran blamed his political opponents. This sounded bizarre as one thought of women like Sonia Gandhi or Ghinwa Bhutto who, despite losing husbands to politically-motivated assassinations, continued to live on in the lands their husbands called home.

Reports of Reham hitting Imran are absolute lies: PTI

Presently, the Pakistani media has overwhelmingly blamed Reham, absolving Imran of any responsibility for the divorce. This can’t possibly be true and leaves Reham with no option but to give her side of the story. When Jemima and Imran divorced, the Pakistani media never maligned Jemima in the manner that they have Reham. And the British media was immediately sympathetic to Jemima, portraying her as the victim who had to endure power cuts and bouts of sickness living in an under-developed country like Pakistan. In Reham’s case, however, the British media largely isn’t interested, barring of course The Daily Mail which, living up to its racist reputation, has been fairly consistent in attacking Reham. She was vilified for wearing clothes and partaking in activities that would be fairly normal for most of The Mail’s readers. The question that should be asked is why is Imran attracted to girls who like to party despite his insistence on iman, istikhara and Umrah in post-wedding interviews?

Both Reham and Jemima, despite their emancipated pasts, were equally guilty of overlooking Imran’s poor stand on women’s rights. In Jemima’s case, she led a dual life. Covering her hair and walking demurely behind Imran in Pakistan, but defaulting to her Western socialite lifestyle in London, where photos of her with Hollywood friends were regularly spotted in the British press. Once married, Reham too opted for a conservative dress and continuously tried to project Imran as an infallible messiah. Neither Jemima nor Reham challenged Imran when he derided the ‘Westernisation of women’. In Jemima’s case, perhaps her Urdu wasn’t proficient enough to know what he was saying but when Imran made the oft-repeated claim when Reham interviewed him in her show, I expected her to ask what exactly he meant by that or why he was then attracted to Westernised women?

Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2015.

Like Opinion & Editorial on Facebook, follow @ETOpEd on Twitter to receive all updates on all our daily pieces.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (11)

  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:07AM

    Imran is a hypocrite and hypocrites are always exposed. It may take long but it’s a fact. Recommend

  • Sheraz Khalid
    Nov 10, 2015 - 9:49AM

    Disagree with this writer! You cant equate happiness with sadness. We were happy to see this couple living harmoniously and we are sad to see them parting ways. No one is allowed to “exploit” the situation for ratings. Media should remain in limits.Recommend

  • Toticalling
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:00PM

    Many people I talk to and the media has blamed Reham for the failure of marriage. But we live in a society which blames women anyway for marriage problems, I am not surprised. Recommend

  • Ali S
    Nov 10, 2015 - 4:50PM

    As far as IK not being a sound ‘judge of character’ is concerned, I don’t think it has anything to do with his character but it’s the fact that Imran Khan isn’t a particularly intelligent person, sorry PTI fans (I voted for PTI too in May 2013) but that’s the truth. He’s a kindhearted, brutally honest, charismatic person and definitely an exceptional cricketer, but when it comes to the brainy part of leadership, Imran isn’t quite there – and that’s why no one who genuinely holds the reins to power, including those in the military establishment and his own party’s leadership, will actually seriously want him to be PM.Recommend

  • NZ
    Nov 10, 2015 - 7:42PM

    We quote the western media as if we endorse it with all its wrongs. There is a reason why libel, slander and defamation are considered illegal and wrong even in the west and article 8 is there to protect peoples personal lives (no matter how public they are). Has it ever occurred to commentators why there are laws in the West protecting peoples right to private lives regardless of them being public or non public figures?
    Public figures having no private life may be a reality that one has to deal with but it is still wrong in principle and media should endorse that principle (even if it tramples on it day in and day out). We seize to be reasonable when we start condoning wrongdoing because its inevitable.Recommend

  • DNiwasi
    Nov 10, 2015 - 9:08PM

    This is called political expediency…Reham and Imran’s driving focus is political power…Reham;s approach just didn;t gel with Imrans and other long term stakeholders to whom this new comer’s insolence proved with zero experience and qualifications other than being the wife- to be unacceptable. She should have taken care of Imran’s preferences and interests, not just hers. She should not have been in a hurry and should known better than to ruffle the feathers of heavyweights in the political field who have been long there before her. In other words, Reham showed her naivety, lack of wisdom and selfishness and she therefore now bears the consequences. Recommend

  • DNiwasi
    Nov 10, 2015 - 9:09PM

    This is called political expediency…Reham and Imran’s driving focus is political power…Reham;s approach just didn;t gel with Imrans and other long term stakeholders to whom this new comer’s insolence with zero experience and qualifications other than being the wife- to be too unacceptable. She should have taken care of Imran’s preferences and interests, not just hers. She should not have been in a hurry and should known better than to ruffle the feathers of heavyweights in the political field who have been long been there before her. In other words, Reham showed her naivety, lack of wisdom and selfishness and she therefore now bears the consequences. Recommend

  • Oats
    Nov 10, 2015 - 11:50PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad: It’s good that we all learn now what kind of person Imran Khan is. He has shown that he does not have the character to lead Pakistan and I will never vote for such a fickle hypocrite now even though I supported him in last elections. Women are half the country and all women should wake up and see Imran Khan for what he has done to women.Recommend

  • hammurabi
    Nov 11, 2015 - 7:20AM

    Imran may have many weaknesses but he is not a hypocrite.He should not have sacrificed his first marriage to serve this ungrateful Nation.
    He is too idealist to lead Pakistan.He is too emotional rigid and stubborn.His honesty and sincerity thus become irrelevant.Recommend

  • Javed Iqbal Butt
    Nov 11, 2015 - 6:05PM

    Air Yousafzai’so question is legitimate
    Imran Khan must answer

    May Almighty have mercy on our people
    Stuck between bad dictators,democratic mughal e azams equally bad.

    & maybe not so bad temperemental would be dictatorsRecommend

  • Dec 4, 2015 - 10:02PM

    I wish it were so easy. For thousands of years we’ve been livnig in fortified villages, towns, cities, and nations. Seems to be in our DNA. So, much as I’d like to devote all the security expenditure to something useful, I have to accept the world doesn’t behave that way. So, we have to prepare for eventualities, if only to ensure we survive.The War on Terror’ is a non-policy which has clearly failed. It hasn’t won the war and hasn’t increased our security. Yes, there have been no more attacks on mainland USA. But there haven’t been any elephants wandering around central park either. The point being, that a small minded W’ can link his W on T with no attacks; but he could have done so much more with so much less. The W on T has confirmed to the world how vulnerable (not how strong) the USA is. Well done George.Counter terrorism has been going on since at least WWII, and will continue. And the really tricky bit will continue to be the balance between protecting our country/citizens, effective counter terrorism, human rights, and cost.Recommend

More in Opinion