A fortnight after her divorce with PTI Chairman Imran Khan, Reham Khan has finally broken her silence about the rumours surrounding her 10-month marriage and eventual split from the Kaptaan.
In an interview with British paper Sunday Times, Reham tells all about the “painful” and “disturbing experience” that was her divorce, during which she has been accused of “hitting” him, “poisoning him with rat poison” and being an “MI6 spy”.
An unregistered marriage and rumour-ridden divorce
While reports that Imran divorced her over a series of three talaq text messages are untrue, Reham said that the divorce has still been a painful experience.
"First the announcement was leaked; then she was “presented with divorce papers” by one of her husband’s representatives in the UK; and now her belongings have been “packed off to some storage facility” within two days of the break-up," reported the Sunday Times.
“There is no need for that,” she said.
One of the earliest rumours to surface was that Reham had received Rs150 million and Rs80 million from Imran as financial settlement of their divorce.
“The sad fact is that despite all my work with women’s rights, my marriage wasn’t registered in Pakistan or in the UK, so actually I have no rights and, after a 10-month marriage, you’re not entitled to anything,” she told Sunday Times with a hollow laugh.
An unromantic proposal
While Reham had earlier told Dawn News that Imran Khan proposed to her in the container in which he lived during his dharna period, it turns out that their courtship, thought just as unromantic, was slightly more drawn out.
After Reham (who knew Imran as a TV journalist) complained to him about a member of his political party who had been sending “inappropriate text messages”, Khan was impressed and sent her a text saying, “I need your parents’ names”, which she thought was “a bit odd”.
"He wanted to give them to his “spiritual adviser to find out if you’re the right woman”. She told him off for his lack of romance and said: 'This isn’t how it’s done.'
The next time they met, he proposed. Although they 'had never met socially' and 'didn’t really know one another', she found it 'endearing' and agreed to marry him,'" writes Sunday Times.
She elaborates on Imran's unromantic streak: “He never gave me anything, not even a wedding band. It’s not cultural. That’s absolutely fine of course.”
Trouble in paradise
Imran and Reham's marriage had its set of challenges from the get-go.
For one, Imran's sisters have famously been known to disapprove of their match.
But she doesn't confirm this, and simply told Sunday Times: “You have to ask them.”
“Actually my brother didn’t think Imran was religious enough for me. I had to persuade him,” she added.
Disapproval of a career wife
Party members made it clear that they had “issues with me working”, she told Sunday Times.
“I was told specifically by a senior adviser: they basically wanted me to be in the kitchen, to be cooking chapatis and not to be seen ever again.”
"Her career was a constant problem, particularly when she became an 'ambassador for street children' in Peshawar. Many party supporters were said to fear that she wanted to “ride his coat-tails”. She admits: 'There wasn’t any involvement, I never attended meetings or anything of the sort, but obviously there was insecurity,'" Sunday Times reported.
Creating a picture of domestic bliss
In their short-lived marriage, Reham tried to turn his house into a home.
There have been rumours that she went overboard in her rearrangement of their Bani Gala mansion, shutting out his family and evicting his dogs from the bedroom.
“If rearranging the house means cleaning the fridge and providing food!” she cried, aghast. “It was a bachelor fridge, it was a bachelor pad and there was no food.”
Their dogs — a sheepdog cross and a Belgian shepherd — remained in the bedroom. “My whole day revolved around the dogs,” she sighed. “His dog was in love with me.”
She does take credit for overhauling his "dreadful", "moth-eaten" wardrobe.
“I’m the sort of person who panics if my family is not looking right,” she said.
"So she “marched off” with one of his private secretaries and used him as a dummy to buy a new wardrobe. Imran was “quite happy with it”, she purrs. She introduced other things such as “deodorants, creams and shampoos”. And she tried to make sure he was given cooked food, because “he was eating raw porridge when I got there”," she told Sunday Times.
"There was no housekeeper; just a “kitchen boy” and a caretaker “who really wanted to be on TV”, so guests were never fed and Imran was surviving on “one chapati a day”," she added.
“I tried to talk to him. I’m very talkative and I’m very chatty but, you know, you can’t exactly with Imran Khan. You can’t discuss the colour of the curtains; you can only talk politics. You cannot exactly discuss Bollywood films with him. God knows I tried.”
Imran and fatherhood
It seems that his politics-only frame of mind also prevented him from being a father figure to his step-children.
“He didn’t interfere at all. He’s not the sort of person who gets involved with anyone. He’s very private and he’s not used to having children around.”
Her children, she said, were confined to one room: “They would never come out . . . would never go to the kitchen”, while Imran had his own wing in the mansion.
She also dismissed reports of jealousy between her and Imran's ex-wife Jemima Goldsmith. A close relationship between a father and the mother of his two sons “is inevitable”, she said. “If anything I encouraged him to spend more time with his children: he’s lazy with phone calls and I thought that was a bit odd.”
Break-up by black magic?
Reham also explained her Twitter statements about black magic:
She said she found “small amulets” in the house prior to their last fight.
“In the Koran it’s mentioned that there is magic and it is used for only one reason — in the Babylonian tradition as well — to separate husband and wife.”
Where were the objects coming from? “Not from me.” Does she think he has planned it all? “Let’s just say I think he knew more than I did.”
The breaking point
While she disclosed that their arguments were "because I would get frustrated about everyone having a go at me,” Reham stays mum about the breaking point of the relationship.
“We had a big argument and I decided that was it,” she simply said, adding that “something happened that I found difficult to get past.”
What is Reham doing now?
“I have to make up for loss of income. I married a man who convinced me that he loved me, who looked lonely and who I thought had the same ideas about life and the same goals, but we were just too different,” she sighs.
“Maybe I wasn’t meant to have everything — personal happiness doesn’t seem to be on the cards.”
She plans to continue her work with street children in Pakistan, is producing two films and is also looking for work in England.