New Delhi, Jan 19: Just days ahead of the much-awaited general election in the embattled-democracy of Pakistan, one woman is holding the country’s male-dominated politics on the edge with her explosive tell-all memoir – said to include salacious details about the sex lives of some of the most powerful politicians, media celebrities and sportsmen in the country.
Reham Khan, 45, the former BBC weather reporter, whose marriage to Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, in 2015 only lasted for a little over nine months, has been slapped with as many as 10 defamations suits already for her upcoming book, including by her former husband Khan, who subsequent to divorcing Reham had gone on to marry faith healer Bushra Meneka, earlier this year.
Khan is head of the country’s third-largest party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), and is among the top contender for the post of Prime Minister in the July general election. PTI is also the ruling party in the militancy-infected Khyber Pakhtunwa province, which provides a regular stream of young and dedicated fighters for the Taliban to fight in neighboring Afghanistan.
Imran started his campaign on a high, and some of the exit polls were even predicting his PTI to become Pakistan’s biggest political party. However, just when his campaign was about to peak, Pakistani media was flooded with alleged leaked excerpts from Reham’s upcoming book, in which she is alleged to have charged Khan not only with domestic violence, but has also made the sensational claim that Khan is bi-sexual, and had multiple affairs post their marriage, including with some in his own party.
In a conservative Muslim country like Pakistan, where politicians often have to swear and live by the virtues preached in the holy book Qu’ran, the allegation of homosexuality can be pretty damning, as for those of us who do not know, both Qu’ran and Hadith (accounts of the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), disapproves of man having sex with man, and in some Muslim countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia, the same is punished by death.
If the charge of homosexuality was not enough, Reham has also accused Khan of sleeping with men and women from his own party, and extending patronage to those he sleeps with.
Among others who have sent a legal notice to Reham, is also the International Media Coordinator of PTI, Anila Khawaja, whom Reham has allegedly called the “chief of the harem” in the manuscript, accusing her of having an illicit affair with Khan, and exerting enormous influence on him.
Others who have sent legal notices to Reham include former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram, Reham’s cousin and her first husband Ijaz Rehman, and actor Hamza Ali Abbasi.
In the past one week, Reham has been accused of working at the behest of Pakistan’s ruling party PML-N, and has been publicly scolded by the country’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who said that Reham, being a woman – or “lady” as the tweet said – should be “ashamed of herself” for writing whatever she has reportedly written about.
“Reham khan is being used by PML(N) I have read some content in WhatsApp messages she should be quite ashamed of herself you don’t write such things and especially a lady doesn’t write such things,” said a tweet by the Musharraf-founded party All Pakistan Muslim League (APML), which the former dictator retweeted.
Reham, however, has refused to be cornered easily and she was quick to give the former military ruler a lesson in gender equality.
“General Pervez Musharraf has tweeted that a lady should not speak such things. It means, men can do anything, but a lady should keep quiet after seeing a lot. The question that arises is why? Why shouldn’t I or any other woman speak?
Who will decide as what women should speak and write and what should she get exposed to. This is wrong,” Reham was quoted as saying by ANI.
How far the alleged leaked excerpts of Reham’s upcoming book can damage Khan’s political career remains to be seen, but for a change, it was refreshing to see the political narrative and gossip in Pakistan in an election month, being dominated by a woman and her right to speak freely about her own life.