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September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         September 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:August' 2018


Reham Khan : A must read on Pakistan’s new star

Gopal MIsra

Reham Khan—is a biopic just published a few weeks before the recently held P a k i s t a n i general elections. Many believe that this book has succeeded in stalling clear mandate to the aspirant of the office of the Prime Minister, Imran Khan (IK), a cricketer-turned politician.
IK’s inability to win a majority despite full patronage of the establishment euphemism for the allpowerful army shows that how a single divorced woman could challenge the powers-that-be.
The well scripted political soap opera first suffered due to the unexpected return of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif implicated in a sham trial of the National Accountability Commission. The discussions accusing Reham of sabotaging IK’s elections forced her to get this biopic published before the polls.
Her critics forgot one truth that she belongs to a traditional family of Pakistan’s border areas, now renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The people of this region are known for their honesty and uprightness. It was earlier known as North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), the birth place of one of the great leaders of India’s freedom movement, Abdul Gaffar Khan. He is remembered as the Frontier Gandhi.
Reham, a teenage mother from conservative family, could face unprecedented ordeals, but displays a rare mix of courage and devotion hit the horizons of international media and Pakistani politics. Reham Khan, the divorced wife of IK is being targeted, harassed and bullied for publishing some unpalatable inside details of the Pakistani political establishment.
Little did her detractors realize that her rare courage could be traced to her Pashtun origin. Her family belongs to the Lughmani tribe, a Swati sub-clan, who are born free and deeply religious. She is an ardent follower of the Deobandi cult of Islam, which represents purity of faith( Deobandis had vehemently opposed the two-nation theory in 1947).
Her faith helped her to lead a life of extraordinary contrasts: both a brutal marriage and domestic violence. Her spiritualism enabled her to rebuild her life, the raising of three children from her earlier marriage and subsequent media success. She was married to an England-based doctor just 13 years senior to him. In this arranged marriage she tolerated his alcoholic habits, though it hurt her puritan feelings.
The ordeals of this 5.7 feet tall winsome woman are well documented in this e-book. Her rise as a media celebrity in England as well as In Pakistan has been phenomenal. However, her

The book offers a good read. It gives a firsthand account that reveals the undercurrents in the murky political scenario of Pakistan. Much before its publication, many political observers and commentators, especially from Pakistan-e-Tahreek-e- Insaf, launched full attack on Reham. She quietly shifts from Pakistan before any physical harm is done to her.

marriage to IK was short-lived, but she finds herself amidst a complex web of politics, deceit and intrigue. This story of this housewifeturned- journalist-turned-socialactivist has managed to balance her work with her primary role of being a mother. She shows us the challenges that a woman can overcome when she wants more from life than tradition expects of her. In spite of the much criticism, her book received, it had made her a symbol of unfathomable energies of women of the Indian sub-continent. Her caution to the working women seeking career in different fields, especially in media, is profound: “Getting involved with bosses is not the way up for a smart woman”.
The book which received worldwide attention is a much maligned document, but to a student of contemporary political history, it offers a good read. It gives a first-hand account that reveals the undercurrents in the murky political scenario of Pakistan.
Much before its publication, many political observers and commentators, especially from Pakistan-e-Tahreek-e-Insaf, a political outfit founded by IK in 1996, launched full attack on Reham. She quietly shifts from Pakistan before any physical harm is done to her. As an experienced journalist and television personality, she knew that in the violence-prone Pakistan, nobody was safe and seldom an assassin is caught and punished. The assassins of Benazir Bhutto, who was killed in 2007 blast during an election rally in Sind province, could not be traced even in 11 years.
The book has received attention of Indian media channels too. Her popularity in India could be traced to her deepbedded idealism and the spirit of sacrifice. It is not surprising that her marriage collapsed, but it continued for so many years. It also displays a rare courage to walk out from a marriage, though having mothered three children that too without any financial resources in an alien land.
She took the leap only when the domestic violence became totally intolerable. She attributes the reason to continue the first marriage for prolonged years to the common attitude of women in India in Pakistan for commitment to their spouses. She says, “Like many of my generation, I was fed a culture of Bollywood, where the practice of Karwa Chauth (fasting and praying for the long life of your husband) was presented so romantically.
The concept of the husband being like a god is promoted in both Hindiand Urdu literature, with terms like Pati Parmeshwar and Mazaji Khuda liberally sprinkled on both sides of the border. The woman as a dasi (devotee) is glorified in our culture regardless of our religion”.
Her second marriage with IK in 2014 could not survive due to some extraneous factors. The main reason for her disillusionment with IK could be due to her spiritualism instead of rhetoric of Islamists with political overtones. She genuinely believes in truthfulness. IK would say, gesturing above his head. “Bring it down to reality”. Her response, while pointing finger to the floor, ‘’Imran, idealism can’t be down here. It always has to be up there, otherwise it’s not idealism. It’s compromise”.
The book provides details about the hypocrisy of the Pakistani political system, which is exploitative in nature and functions under the military umbrella. In this backdrop, IK’s ascendance to power is just the civilian facet of the establishment or GHQ, which could frequently summon any prime minister. Some references in this book may help to understand the limited role of a civilian leader in Pakistan.
Only knaves in India’s foreign policy players will believe that the IK government would not get adequate American support. Her book reveals close proximity with the US establishment and IK, “I found it strange that Imran made a point of extreme public rhetoric against the Americans and Zionism, while sharing close ties with those who had a clear interest in furthering Israel’s cause. Imran’s jewish in-laws also designed his future. He had to do their bidding, not because of any good-ex-husband responsibilities, but for his own political wellbeing” She further writes,”
Less than a year later, my worst fears would be confirmed: A seasoned politician swore to me that a meeting had taken place, confirming Imran’s U.S support. To cross-check the story, I cornered the former Director General of the ISI, General Ehsan ul Haq, who confirmed Imran’s connections to the Americans. According to him, at a meeting in 1996 between the late Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan and Henry Kissinger, a third party was also present. That third party was Sir James Goldsmith.

Reham exposes many facets of IK. There is a bizarre pattern in IK. He appears to be a man of the West and embracer of liberal lifestyles. At the same time he is a beacon of Islam and committed fundamentalist.

She exposes many facets of IK. There is a bizarre pattern in IK, who appears to be a man of the West and embracer of liberal lifestyles, at the same time; he is a beacon of Islam and committed fundamentalist. One of his former consorts describes him a "lying, cheating love rat". He is married to 21-year-old Jewish millionaires Jemima Goldsmith. Her father James Goldsmith runs a famous nightclub, Annabel's. She tells about the bond between IK and Jewish banking dynasties. It is to be observed that whether these connections help him survive in the Pakistani politics.
Reham quotes IK for having five illegitimate children. He tells her that “There are five in total that I know of”. “Five what?!” Reham asks; he laughs and says, “Kids,”. Reham questions, “What? You have five illegitimate children! How do you know?” IK replies, “Well, the mothers told me,” Reham probes further, “All White’s?” IK confesses, “No, some are Indians. The eldest is 34 now”. A surprised Reham asks, “How Imran? Why did the mother not come out with it?”
“Because she was over the moon! She had been married for ages and couldn’t get pregnant. She was overjoyed, promised to keep it a secret, and begged to keep it. So I said OK “.
There have been accusations that Reham was liberally funded by the jailed prime minister, Nawaz Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League (N) or India’s intelligence agency, RAW, for this publication. She tells her readers that a British friend said to her, “Reham, I think you should write a book that tells the story of how you became this gladiator that you are today. Your life story is so much more interesting than anyone knows. I would want to know how you did it all on your own”. It is, however, a fact that her book is an instant success and she does not need secret funds to get it printed. It is a delight for any book lover to read it.
It’s simple narrative forces a reader to finish this document in one go. Much before the publication of this book, her detractors have accused her of harbouring political ambitions by undermining IK. However, she silences them by referring to her being on the threshold of the British politics. She reveals that while working in BBC, in 2012, she was sounded for a political role by a few conservatives in Southampton and Portsmouth.
However, she declines and returns to Pakistan, and works in some Pakistani channels till she marries IK in 2014.
The author has vehemently denied this accusation in a number of interviews given in Pakistan, India and even in international television channels, including BBC, where she had once excelled as a journalist and anchor too.
A close study of the book dispels most of these allegations and offers in-depth study of forces of Pakistan, its army and the on-going ethnic differences ready to tear off a country born from the womb of a white mother. India and Pakistan came into being in 1947 by an Act of British Parliament, subscribing to the two nation theory that Hindus and Muslim are two nations.
Reham’s book displays courage of a woman. She returns to Pakistan to educate her children about their homeland. She finds well-paid assignments in Pakistan, which ultimately leads her to IK. They were married. Her being a rare blend of beauty with talent received attention from IK.
However, she soon realizes that her husband’s political outfit too is sans idealism. Her disenchantment with the politics resembles those, who had put high hopes in India’s new political outfit, Aam Admi Party (AAP).
Her decision to narrate her tumultuous life in a book has not been kindly taken in various sections of the Pakistani establishment. The reasons that hit the headlines on a global scale could be the references in the book about IK, which talk about the frequent use of drugs, drinks and his multiple sexual exploits across the globe.
Interestingly, the IK’s love children from the USA to India did not sufficiently hurt politically the new prime minister. But it, perhaps, has created impediments in achieving majority in Pakistan’s National Assembly.
The book is a must for those who are keen to know about the Islamic state of Pakistan with nuclear teeth today.