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What brings PTI chief to a remote town?

February 18, 2018

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Imran Khan has been a regular visitor to Pakpattan for the last two years. The visits, however, are kept private. -Photo by author
Imran Khan has been a regular visitor to Pakpattan for the last two years. The visits, however, are kept private. -Photo by author

SAHIWAL: At a time when Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf faced the media onslaught after ‘startling revelations’ by its MNA Ms Ayesha Gulalai on Tuesday evening, the party chairman who skipped the all-important National Assembly session the same day, travelled all the way to Pakpattan in the dark of night.

Mr Khan has been a regular visitor to the ancient town for the last two years. The visits, however, are kept private.

Escorted by his personal guards, Khan usually visits the town at night, pays homage to saint Baba Fariduddin Ganjshakar by visiting his shrine and then stays for a few hours at the residence of his hosts who belong to influential Maneka clan with whom he is said to have a spiritual bond.

Imran Khan is seen at the shrine.— Photo by author
Imran Khan is seen at the shrine.— Photo by author

A source close to the Manekas told this correspondent that during these sojourns Khan Sahib also meets with his spiritual patron, Bushra Bibi, known as Ms Pinki in the area, whenever he finds himself in a difficult situation.

A respected Pir (faith healer) in Pakpattan, Ms Bushra, in her 40s, is the wife of Khawar Farid Maneka, a senior customs official in Islamabad. He is the son of Ghulam Farid Maneka, a seasoned politician and former federal minister. Ms Bushra is from the Wattoo clan, of which the Manekas are a sub-clan.

Imran Khan’s connection with the Manekas was confirmed by PTI leader Naeemul Haq last year when rumours were doing the rounds that the PTI chief had married a UK-based relative of the family on the advice of his Pir, Ms Bushra.

Haq had then denied reports about Khan’s third marriage but confirmed in his tweet that his leader had “spiritual relationship” with the Maneka family.

The source close to the family said Khan Sahib first visited Ms Bushra ahead of the NA-154 (Lodhran) by-poll in 2015 and was very pleased when Jahangir Tareen won the seat according to her prediction. Since then he has been visiting her regularly, the source adds.

Mumtaz Hayat Maneka, a young Aitchisonian from the Maneka clan, said the PTI leader had a lot of reverence for Pinki Bibi as a true follower.

PTI’s Pakpattan Information Secretary Azhar Mahmood Khan said Khan Sahib reached Khawar Farid Maneka’s house on Tuesday evening, stayed there for some hours, visited Baba’s shrine and returned to Islamabad.

The source said Khan was advised by his Pir to visit the shrine after Gulalai’s allegations.

Rao Naseem Hashim, PTI’s senior leader in Pakpattan, said on his personal social media account: “How a person (Imran Khan) can be accused of harassment who was sitting in the shrine of a Pir-i-Kamil with humbleness and respect.”

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2017

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