London: While Imran Khan on Friday announced the end of his second marriage after just ten months, yet there were many who expressed surprise that the union had managed to limp on for that long.Reham herself is saying nothing – yet – but told friends the collapse of her marriage was down to a ‘conspiracy’ by some of his political friends.Sources say that she complained of being under ‘severe mental pressure’ and denied that the divorce process was completed yet.After all, Imran’s marriage to former regional BBC weathergirl Reham Khan had been mired in controversy from the start, not least because of claims that the former cricketing hero’s family and friends could not bear his ambitious, Westernized bride. Perhaps, more crucially, she had also alienated the opposition political party he leads in Pakistan with her penchant for wearing revealing clothes and expressing strong personal and political opinions, British newspaper the Mail Online said on Saturday.
Just a few months into her marriage to Khan, 62, a cousin of Reham wrongly accused his ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith – the mother of his two children – of being behind a smear campaign against her.The newspaper said from the moment she married Khan, the internet was awash with stories about Reham, from her low cut tops and skimpy skirts, and her cooking of pork sausages to outrageous and patently false claims that she was a serial cheat.But Imran seemed to stand by her. So what drove the final nail in the coffin of the marriage? Many believe Reham underestimated the fact that, despite divorcing in 2004, Jemima and Khan remain close, and point out his fury that Jemima was accused of jealously smearing her.Other sources said the couple were ‘simply not getting along’, not least because Reham was so unpopular with Imran’s family. Then there were those who had darker theories – about her plans to launch her own political career, her wish to give a ‘tell-all interview’ about her first marriage, and her complex past.
Naturally, given Imran Khan’s position as the founder and chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), which has brought him many high-profile enemies, there was also gossip about the former cricketer and other women. He is, after all, the most eligible man in Pakistan.As one source reflected: ‘Many people in his party were keen for him to have a wife because it was felt that it would play better and help his career. Now what has happened just makes him look even more like a Westernized playboy than ever before as he is twice divorced.’Yesterday began with a brief, regretful tweet from Reham, 42. ‘We have decided to part ways and file for divorce,’ she announced. An hour later Imran wrote: ‘This is a painful time for me & Reham & our families.’ He added: ‘I have the greatest respect for Reham’s moral character & her passion to work for & help the underprivileged.’
One wonders if there was just a hint of Orwellian double-speak because, however much Imran may have respected his wife’s ‘passion for the underprivileged’, her habit of dabbling in public life seems to have been a factor in the collapse of their marriage.
Indeed, only two months ago Imran issued a statement to say his wife would not be campaigning further after she drew criticism for supporting a candidate from her husband’s party in a failed by-election. Reham, host of a local TV talk show, was also criticized for appearing at public meetings of the PTI party, with opponents accusing her of seeking to boost her own profile through her husband’s fame. In Pakistan, her ambition and her Westernized past were both anathema.In early January Imran was spotted travelling to and from the UK, apparently seeking the agreement of his two sons by Jemima Goldsmith to his remarriage. Soon after the marriage was confirmed with the release of pictures of him and his new bride. But family discord also played a part. Absent from the tiny ceremony were key family members, including Imran’s sisters and cousins.‘We are basically boycotting it,’ a relative who did not wish to be named told The Guardian at the time. ‘The family only hoped that he married a good person and we don’t believe she is. He is an icon and he deserves much better.’Soon after the wedding Reham went on the offensive, saying her husband was ‘no longer alone’.
Those who criticised her past were silenced by her claim that she had divorced in 2005 because of domestic violence at the hands of her first husband Ijaz Rehman – a devastating allegation which he vehemently denied.Meanwhile, the marriage was under strain, not least because Reham was becoming increasingly involved with Imran’s political party.PTI supporter Asif Ali, a banker, said yesterday: ‘After marrying her, we believe he lost the support of most of the sincere party workers and the leadership.‘Everybody knew the background of Reham Khan – that she left her first husband in such bad circumstances. He claimed that he was thrown out of the house by her with just one suitcase and she snatched everything from him. In such a situation, how could we rely on a person who is becoming the life partner of our beloved leader?’
According to a family friend, Reham’s political ambitions only exacerbated the discord. The allegation is that she wanted to be included in the party’s senior leadership team. Imran is said to have told her not to annoy party officials by criticising them. Local sources indicate that the couple separated two weeks ago, agreeing not to disclose the split until after the 2018 general election. But apparently Khan was prompted to break this secret after discovering that Reham was planning to visit hospitals in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and to continue her political lobbying.