Imran's party puts on brave face after Reham bouncer
Lahore - "It will have zero effect on votes," said PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seems unfazed, at least officially, as far as the impact of Imran Khan's ex-wife Reham Khan's upcoming book on the party's chances at next month's general election are concerned.
"It will have zero effect on votes," said PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry.
"When someone lies about you constantly on the international stage, it inevitably leaves a bad taste and you are forced to react, otherwise it did not even merit much reaction."
Accusing the PML-N of orchestrating the book drama, Chaudhry said they used similar tactics years ago to malign Benazir Bhutto and her mother Nusrat Bhutto, which backfired. They spread fake pictures and stories about BB and then in 1996 they scandalised Imran's first marriage. "Something or the other pops up when PML-N's opponents build momentum for elections," Chaudhry said. Reham Khan, on the other hand, seems to stick to her guns despite an avalanche of criticism from PTI and its supporters regarding the tell-all autobiography.
She has allegedly been served a legal notice in UK by former cricket captain Wasim Akram, businessman Zulfikar Bukhari, her first husband Ijaz Rehman and PTI international media coordinator Anila Khwaja after all of them received copies of the unpublished book through anonymous sources.
According to press reports, the notice was issued by British law firm Sweetman Burke and Sinker on May 30, and says the book contains 'malicious, false, incorrect, highly misleading, callous, wanton, tortious, prejudicial, damaging, libelous, and defamatory imputations." It gives Reham 14 days to meet various conditions failing which the firm shall advise its clients to approach the high court.
Even though the book has not been released - nor scheduled for one - leaked manuscripts seem to have found their way to PTI supporters, who verify extremely damaging content regarding the filers.
Wasim Akram is allegedly accused of being a cuckold - with very graphic details. Anila is called chief of Imran's 'harem' who exercises 'enormous control' over him. Bukhari is said to have facilitated the abortion of a lady impregnated by Imran, while her former husband Ijaz Rehman is accused of beating her throughout her troubled first marriage.
Reham also said, on Indian TV, that getting "sexual favours" to give out political positions was quite the norm in Pakistani politics, especially PTI.
After brief statements all filers have refused further comment, saying they will let the law take its course. Wasim expressed deep regret over alleged accusations against him and his late wife, and vowed to fight back strongly. Likewise Anila released a detailed statement saying, "Others can hurl as many vile allegations as they may do, but. I'll neither be deterred nor demoralised from carrying out the mission I'm here to do."
The Pakistani press, meanwhile, is translating PTI's strong reaction - especially since the book is not yet out - as fear of losing votes in the general election due next month, especially in the conservative belt in the periphery.
"I would say it will have an impact," said veteran journalist and TV show host Arif Nizami, also editor of Pakistan Today. "The way PTI is rattled, in fire-fighting mode, scared and nervous, is telling."
Nizami was the first to break the news about Imran's marriage to Reham, even when it was officially kept secret for two months. He also broke the news about the divorce, which was also initially denied. According to Nizami, Imran told friends, just before the divorce, that his life had become "nightmare on Elm Street."
Yet with one week remaining before the 14-day deadline from the legal notice expires, Reham is not only refusing to backing down but also denies receiving any notice.
"We have received no notice to date," said Yasir Hameed Hamdani, Reham's lawyer in Pakistan. "So far, this is just a figment of PTI's imagination."
Hamdani explained that while Reham would seek counsel in the UK, they had taken legal action in Pakistan also. "We sent a legal notice to (activist, actor and firebrand PTI supporter) Hamza Ali Abbasi for the claim that the PML-N gave GBP100,000 to Reham, which was patently false," he said.
Despite repeated requests, Abbasi did not talk to Khaleej Times regarding his position.
Similarly, certain quarters are accusing former ambassador to US, Husain Haqqani, of ghost writing the book after pictures of Haqqani and Reham Khan having lunch appeared on the internet. "That, too, we shall answer."
Also, Hamdani pointed out, PTI is only damaging itself and its leaders by the accusations since the book has not come out. They cannot claim, with surety, that they have the authentic contents with them.
Without the authentic manuscript, which can only be confirmed upon publication, PTI's actions "only amount to digging a grave for PTI and Imran Khan."