KT exclusive: Reham seeks to end controversy, says book is not meant to 'damage' Imran
Imran, she said, was just a symptom of a huge problem which is typical of the subcontinent.
"My book is not meant to damage Imran," said Reham Khan, ex-wife of PTI chairman Imran Khan, in stark contrast to expectations that the upcoming exposť might irreparably damage Imran and the party.
Talking exclusively to Khaleej Times from London, Reham rebutted a number accusations thrown at her daily as the media storm about her biography, not yet published, refuses to die down.
PTI supporters, some of whom allegedly received advance copies, lit the local Press on fire, accusing her of colluding with rival PML-N to harm her former husband. They have also called the book 'pornographic', a 'pack of lies' and 'not fit for publication'.
Imran's party puts on brave face after Reham bouncer
Yet Reham did not seem bitter at all, especially about Imran, during the interview.
"Imran has been part of our lives for 40 years and meant more than my marriage to my family also," she said, telling of her difficulty in explaining the situation to her young son. "Socially and politically, he was Pakistan's biggest celebrity of our time."
And the book, far from being an estranged wife's act of revenge, offers deep insight into Imran. "If read with an open mind, and in an unbiased way, you will see that my purpose was not ulterior."
Imran, she said, was just a symptom of a huge problem which is typical of the subcontinent, (which she explained later) "and it is not his fault". Even though she opened easily about Imran, she refused to talk about the book's contents, but did clarify that it was PTI, not PML-N, that made her write it.
Reham served legal notice over upcoming book
Immediately after the divorce she was contacted by a number of PR agents and publishers, encouraging her to speak out. "But I did not want to; it was too raw." Some PTI workers then spread rumours in the media that Reham had taken GBP 37,000 to write a book against Imran. Then it assumed a life of its own -- Senator Aitzaz Ahsan making similar claims and famous cartoonist Sabir Nazar also chipping in. And then followed PML-N loudmouths Hanif Abbasi and Rana Sanaullah.
"PML-N could have had two reasons to join the circus," she added. "One, they were stung by the Panama case and wanted to threaten Imran. And two, they could have been trying to provoke me into writing."
Either way she blames PTI diehards who hounded her in the Press more than PML-N loyalists for finally writing the book.
"I completed it around Christmas last year and announced it publicly in February," she said, adding, "and then came threats and abuses that forced me to leave the country."
One reason Reham refuses to talk about the book's contents, in addition to publisher's concerns, is PTI's mistake of commenting too heavily on it before formal publication.
Legally, if sections of the book they have allegedly seen and commented on do not turn out to be part of the actual book, PTI supporters leading the charge against her could find themselves in a very tight spot. But since she's already been served pre-action civil protocols by four people, she will now adopt legal procedure for her replies also.
"If only they had just asked for a legal read, which is the legal, civil and normal thing to do, things could have proceeded smoothly," she continued. "Instead they took to hurling abuse. They just wanted to threaten me."
In its reaction, PTI went too far, and "threw out its own case for which I should be very grateful".
Yet this trend, too, goes beyond PTI and is typical of our society at large, just as she implied earlier.
"We are, unfortunately, a dishonest society; we are liars and hypocrites," she lamented. "There is really no merit in Pakistan, be it the bureaucracy, judiciary or politics."
The culture of favouritism and patronage, where progress generally lies in toeing certain lines and granting certain favours, is particularly harmful for professional women and stunts the growth of democracy itself.
"Even when I was desperate for money -- raising three kids on my own -- I would not follow up on interviews when somebody commented on my hair colour or asked if I was single," she said, reflecting on the problem of sexual harassment that plagues women, on different levels, throughout the country.
"This keeps professional women out of good jobs as well as the political space; and democracy suffers also."
PTI, despite its claims of change, etc, turned out to be no different, Reham found after an up-close and intense encounter. And more than sleazy accounts relating to the party chairman (and women) around him, which seem to have thrown some PTI supporters into a tailspin, the upcoming book seems more an analysis of just why Pakistan, and its prominent personalities, turned out this way.
"Most of these people are not scared of any sexual details that might come up in the book, but substantial accounts of their wider activities," Reham pointed out.
It seems she saw Imran turning into that typical dishonest, hypocritical Pakistani also -- one who would bend and break rules to get what he wants -- as is apparent from his unending political u-turns and an "outward show of religiosity."
But it will be a while before anybody can read the real, published book.
"I'm a perfectionist and not happy with the final draft; and I'm due to sign with a publisher any day now, but haven't yet," she concluded.
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