KARACHI: First Lady Bushra Bibi has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan is the only [Pakistani] leader who has no greed and that it is in his fate to bring prosperity and success to the country.
“When God wants to change the fate of a nation, He gives them a leader instead of a politician. It is Pakistan’s good fortune that it has gotten a leader such as Imran,” Bushra Bibi said during her first-ever interview to a private news channel on Thursday. The prime minister had the country’s best interests at heart, she added.
Explaining the difference between a politician and a leader, she said a politician only changed circumstances, but a leader changed the country’s fate. “Imran Khan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are the only two leaders of this century,” said the first lady.
In her first-ever interview to a news channel, first lady rubbishes reports she was divinely inspired to marry PTI chief
However, she added, Mr Khan had no magic wand and so it would take time to bring about change in the country. “But only Imran Khan can change conditions in the country,” she insisted, adding that the opposition was very strong, but since the prime minister was religious, he would come through.
When asked how she felt about her transition from spiritual guide (pir) to first lady, Bushra Bibi quipped: “In my past life, people used to come to me to get close to God and His messenger; now they come to me to get close to Khan sahib.”
It was important to worship and pray, but it was more important to serve humankind, she said. “This is something I’ve learned from Khan sahib. Everyone says I brought change in Imran Khan’s life, but the reality is that change came in both of us due to each other.”
In a subtle attempt to give context to the prime minister’s austerity claims, the first lady spoke extensively of her husband’s “simple” lifestyle during the interview, saying that Mr Khan had no greed for anything at all.
“He does not get any clothes stitched for himself. When I first married him, I asked one of the housekeepers to take out his summer clothes and was told that he does not have any,” she said, narrating an incident from the early days of her marriage. “The housekeeper told me that he only wears clothes if someone gives them to him. He never gets them stitched,” she recalled.
“Someone came and gifted him a few sets of shalwar kamiz which he wore throughout the season,” the first lady went on to say as she referred to the “small” room in their house where the interview took place.
Speaking of a shift in PM Khan’s temperament after the election, the show’s host commented that the firebrand leader seemed to have mellowed down over the past few months. To this, the first lady said that this shift could be attributed to his increased religiosity. She mentioned during the interview that PM Khan made it a point to fulfil his religious obligations punctually despite his busy daily routine.
Bushra Bibi also rubbished reports published in sections of the media that she was divinely inspired to marry Imran Khan. “I cannot conceive of how or why people choose to circulate such lies,” she remarked in exasperation.
Also brushing aside another controversy surrounding her marriage to Imran Khan which was pushed in certain sections of the press, the first lady said she had completed her iddat before she even left her former husband’s house. “I could have married someone the day I left my former husband’s home, but I waited some six or seven months before I did so,” she said, mentioning that her former husband had been very particular about fulfilling religious obligations.
She also regretted the controversy the timing of her marriage had stirred, saying it caused her distress.
During the interview, the first lady also responded to critics who have criticised her for her choice of veil. “My veil is my identity,” said Bushra Bibi defiantly, adding that parda was a personal matter and those who had an objection with it should not do it instead of criticising others. She also clarified that she did not use social media and any accounts operating in her name were fake.
Speaking of the causes she plans to champion during her time as the first lady, Bushra Imran said that she was deeply moved when she visited an old people’s home in Lahore.
“The pain [I felt] was such that I could not eat or pray for the next few days,” she recalled. “Some of the people I met had nothing [...] some asked me for a small stipend, just so that they could spend Rs10 on something on their own. That jolted my soul to the core. I just wanted to leave that place quickly and do something for them.”
She spoke in a similar vein about her desire to help orphans and the disabled, recalling anecdotes from her visits to various facilities and promising to do something for their welfare as the first lady.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2018