Author-cum-journalist Reham Khan has been in the news for her memoirs, chronicling her life, particularly her marriage to present Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. The tell-all released by Imran Khan’s ex-wife, titled Reham Khan, dishes out details not just of their marriage but even of his power-hungry political ambitions and cricketing career. With Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) winning the recent national elections and the former cricket captain sworn in as Prime Minister, Reham Khan makes no bones about the fact that he is unfit to be PM. In an email chat, Reham Khan talks about why she penned her memoirs, the death threats she received and more.
Q: Why this book at this stage in your life?
A: I had been receiving threats from the Imran Khan camp since the divorce. In the last three years, post-divorce, journalists and anchors confirmed to me that they were told not to give me any coverage, and following the odd interview with me, channel owners would be called to discipline the interviewer and the interview censored. By September 2017, the threats became more real and it was conveyed to me that anyone who speaks against Imran now will be blown up. The plan was to bring him to power and I was told once again to abandon any idea of writing a book. Faced with a literal deadline, I decided to write and complete the book before something happened to me. I locked myself up and completed the book by December 2017.
Q: Your book came out at a crucial time for Imran Khan. Now that he has won the elections and is Prime Minister of Pakistan, what are your thoughts?
A: Imran’s people started leaking bits and pieces of stuff they claimed were in the book in the beginning of June to malign the content and brand it as pornographic. They started circulating PDF documents on social media and via WhatsApp groups. We were conscious that the propaganda machinery they have access to was not only effectively trying to discredit the book, but trying to damage our sales. They were also trying to bully me into not publishing the book. This meant PR companies and publishers would take the censor route. To counter this strategy, I decided to self-publish a full unedited version earlier than we had planned to release (it).
Q: Many in Pakistan feel your book was written only to discredit Imran Khan.
A: The question is based on a false perception. Only PTI-led propaganda suggests that. Many actually agree that I have written what needed to be said years ago. The comments I get are it is 200 per cent true. Some go as far as saying the book is only the tip of the iceberg. I wrote the book with the intention that it would be the first of its kind. Many describe it as a brutally honest account of Pakistani society and culture of the privileged. It blows the top about (sic) how the political elites live lives very different than the rest of us. I just happened to be married to one of them.
Q: You have revealed a lot in your memoirs and some people have reportedly sent you legal notices for defaming them. Does this faze you at all?
A: I have not been sent any legal notices by anyone. There were some threats of legal notices but nothing came of it.
Q: You were just married for about a year to Imran Khan. How would you describe that year?
A: I was married to him but he was not married to me. It was for all practical purposes for him a marriage of convenience. To this day, I can’t be sure who told him to marry me. On the surface, it was mostly a pleasant interaction. He was generous in his praise, frequently complimentary of how I looked after the house, my political sense, my strong faith, even my articulation. We had no arguments whatsoever. Certainly, I never interfered in his relationship with his ex-wife, his children, his sisters or his friends. It was a stressful year for me because lies were constantly cooked up about me and Imran would never defend me and discourage me from taking any action also. I put up with this until I started finding out that he was part of it all himself.
Q: Your life has been quite eventful (apart from Imran Khan). Was there any point in your life that you felt at your weakest and that you wouldn’t get through it?
A: Never have I felt that I can’t cope with it. If I feel a bit down, I get up to pray and I throw myself into my work. The book gives you practical advice about how to cope with life and the challenges it throws at you. Just get up, start smiling and everything will look much easier instantly.
Q: Through it all, how did you manage to raise your children?
A: Raising my children was a breeze. I don’t know why parents complain so much. Maybe I have been lucky to have amazing children, but I never had any problems during puberty for example. They helped with everything always and I have had a lot of fun raising them. You have to enjoy what you do and being a parent for me is a huge privilege.
Q: What would your message be to other women in bad marriages?
A: Leave. Seriously though, seek professional marriage counselling especially if there are kids involved. Divorce should be the last resort, but in most cases, partners are not willing to seek support especially males in our culture. A lot of marriages could be saved if we could get couples to take marriage classes before tying the knot too and certainly when encountering problems.
Q: If there was one thing you could say to Imran Khan now, what would it be?
A: Change yourself first then try to change the country. Practise what you preach. Start by being honest.