ISLAMABAD: It’s official now. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief and his second wife have decided to part ways.
“Imran Khan and Reham Khan have decided to divorce by mutual consent,” Naeemul Haq, formal spokesman for the PTI chief, confirmed on Friday.
In a brief statement, Mr Haq requested the media to respect the couple’s privacy. “Due to the sensitivity and seriousness of this extremely painful matter it is requested that the media refrain from any speculation. There will be no further communication in this respect.”
In a follow-up press release, Mr Haq also cautioned PTI leaders and workers against commenting on the matter.
Speculations have been swirling thick and fast for weeks about serious differences between the two.
The two solemnised their marriage in January this year in a private but much talked-about ceremony. At that time also, the media was ripe with stories about their intention to tie the knot before the decision was made public on Jan 8.
On both occasions, however, the PTI chief had initially rejected reports as mere speculations. Following Friday’s announcement of their separation, Imran Khan, in a series of tweets, sought privacy from everyone at this ‘difficult time’ of his life.
“This is a painful time for me & Reham & our families. I would request everyone to respect our privacy. I have the greatest respect for Reham’s moral character & her passion to work for & help the underprivileged,” he said.
At the same time, the PTI chief hit out at reports about reported financial settlement between the two. “Reports & speculation about financial settlements are absolutely false and shameful.”
Reham Khan also confirmed the development in her tweet and said, “We have decided to part ways and file for divorce.”
Although soon after their marriage, the two presented themselves before the media as a happy couple, reports started making the round that PTI leaders in general and Mr Khan’s family in particular weren’t happy with Ms Reham.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, expecting unsavoury remarks from leaders of his party about the divorce, directed his followers “to refrain from commenting on family and personal matters of Imran Khan”.
Agencies add: Imran Khan had lived alone for 11 years following his divorce from his first wife, Briton Jemima Goldsmith. They were married for nine years and split in 2004. Imran has two sons from that relationship who live with their mother in the UK.
The news of his divorce comes a day before the local government elections in Punjab and Sindh. Analysts say it may negatively affect PTI’s chances at the polls.
Ms Reham, a former BBC weather host and a divorced mother of three, was widely criticised after she appeared at public meetings of the PTI, with opponents accusing her of seeking to boost her own profile through her husband’s fame.
Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2015