KARACHI: In his first on the record interview in several years, the ex-husband of former first lady Bushra Bibi took a swipe at PTI chairman and former premier Imran Khan on Monday, holding him responsible for ruining his married life and accusing him of visiting his ex-wife at ‘unconventional’ hours before their eventual marriage.
The interview came just a week after Khawar Maneka was released on bail in a land grabbing case, and also brought to mind the made-for-TV interviews earlier given by the PTI chief’s lieutenants, after they were released in different cases.
Appearing on Shahzeb Khanzada’s show on Geo News on Monday night, Mr Maneka accused Mr Khan of ‘intimate involvement’ in his home and being the reason for the subsequent decline of his marriage.
However, he vehemently refuted the land grabbing accusations that led to his arrest, and also denied that he was under any pressure to come up with the allegations against his ex-wife and her husband Imran Khan. The host questioned him about the timing of his revelations, which came several years after the fact, to which he responded, “I am exhausted from holding it in; the burden is too heavy to carry any longer.”
“For 28 years, we shared a blissful marriage, and my wife never expressed any grievances.”
Mr Maneka claimed that Bushra Bibi’s sister Maryam Wattoo, who lives in the UK, had introduced the PTI chief to her during the PTI’s Islamabad sit-in.
He claimed that despite his mother’s warnings, Bushra Bibi continued her ‘secret overnight conversations’ with Mr Khan on a phone and SIM card provided by Farah Khan.
“I would call [Bushra] and my call would never be attended; he would come and sit in my house without my permission. She started arguing with me when I expressed concerns about Mr Khan’s frequent visits, particularly during unconventional hours,” he said, adding that on one occasion, he had to expel the PTI chief from his house with the assistance of his domestic help.
Later, he alleged, the two began frequently meeting in Islamabad’s Banigala area, where both Mr Maneka and Mr Khan owned properties. He claimed his ex-wife used to frequent Mr Khan’s residence without his permission.
However, the moment she returned from Islamabad, Mr Maneka claimed he noticed significant changes in Bushra’s behaviour towards him, adding that she then shifted to her mother’s place in Pakpattan.
The controversy over Bushra Bibi’s marriage to Mr Khan during her iddat period also came up.
Months before her wedding to Mr Khan was disclosed, Mr Maneka said he visited her in Pakpattan and finally sent divorce papers through her friend, Farah Khan, on Nov 14, 2017.
However, Ms Farah and Zulfiqar Bukhari, a close aide of the PTI chief, urged Mr Maneka to change the date on the divorce papers and to stay silent on the matter, citing Mr Khan’s aspiration to become the prime minister.
“I felt threatened by those calls and stayed quiet because I wanted to protect my children,” he claimed when grilled about glaring contradictions in his statements and the actions of his children, who were often given official protocol.
He denied having any connection with Ahsan Jamil Gujar, Farah Khan’s husband who had earlier claimed to be the ‘guardian’ of his children. He also denied that he had any role in the frequent transfers of DPOs at Pakpattan. “Most of them opted for transfers for reasons I don’t know,” he remarked.
Mr Maneka was also persistently questioned about his prolonged silence on the matter, and why he spoke up only when cases against him were in court.
On Nov 13, the Lahore High Court granted him bail in a case about illegally occupying Auqaf department’s land in Haveli Lakha, Okara. The Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment had arrested him on Sept 25, alleging he had illegally built a marriage hall on graveyard land owned by the Auqaf department.
Mr Maneka said he was “not afraid of the one case” against him and was prepared to confront all the allegations. “I am not a coward, I will not hide my face, I have proof of my assets and I will present them in the court,” he added.
Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023