News :: I didn't get a glimpse of my mystic bride's face until after we married, says ex-playboy cricketer Imran Khan - BESTAREWA BlOG

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News :: I didn't get a glimpse of my mystic bride's face until after we married, says ex-playboy cricketer Imran Khan

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I didn't get a glimpse of my mystic bride's face until after we married, says ex-playboy cricketer Imran Khan

dailymail.co.uk
Jul 21, 2018 10:14 PM
Imran Khan, the man who looks likely to be elected prime minister in Pakistan's general election this week, leans forward in his chair and lowers his voice.
He is about to make an extraordinary disclosure about his new wife. Later he will talk fondly of his first, the British heiress Jemima Goldsmith, a marriage that ended in divorce in 2004 after nine years; and in rather less glowing terms about his second wife, who is also British – the former BBCweather presenter Reham Khan.
He divorced her, after ten stormy months together, in 2015 – a bitter break-up that could yet cost him the premiership, thanks to her sensational allegations of adultery, drug-taking and fathering children out of wedlock.
Nevertheless, what Khan now tells me in an exclusive interview is indeed a surprise, given that with two failed marriages behind him, he must have approached the prospect of a further union with a degree of caution.
Yet when it came to his third wedding, in February this year, he says: 'I did not catch a glimpse of my wife's face until after we were married. I proposed to her without seeing her because she had never met me without her face being covered with a full veil.
Pakistani cricketer-turned-opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party Imran Khan (C) posing for a photograph with his new wife Bushra along with relatives during a nikah wedding ceremony
Pakistani cricketer-turned-opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) party Imran Khan (C) posing for a photograph with his new wife Bushra along with relatives during a nikah wedding ceremony
Bushra Maneka is the third wife of Imran Khan but he did not see her face until after they were married
Bushra Maneka is the third wife of Imran Khan but he did not see her face until after they were married
'The only idea I had of what she looked like came from an old photograph I had seen in her house.'
The reason, the former captain of his country's cricket team explains, is that his bride, Bushra Maneka, 39, is a leading scholar and spiritual guide in the mystic Sufi branch of Islam and she will not meet men other than her husband with her face uncovered, nor venture unveiled outside her house, which she rarely leaves.
She is a mother-of-five, and when she and Khan, 65, first met three years ago, she was still married to her first husband, a senior customs official named Khawar Fareed Maneka. When Bushra finally did remove her veil, Khan adds: 'I was not disappointed, and now I am happily married.'
Back in the 1980s, when Khan lived the life of a socialite, playing with the same energy both on the field and in London nightclubs such as Annabel's and Tramp, it would, he admits, 'have been unthinkable if someone had told me I would marry someone whose face I hadn't seen. I would have thought they were mad'.
Pakistan's cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan speaks to his supporters during an election campaign in Karachi, Pakistan
Pakistan's cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan speaks to his supporters during an election campaign in Karachi, Pakistan
Politician and former cricketer Imran Khan pictured with his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Jewel Awards in 2004
Politician and former cricketer Imran Khan pictured with his Lifetime Achievement Award at the Asian Jewel Awards in 2004
The cricketing legend who could potentially be Pakistan's future prime minister, Khan says the United States should stop trying to destroy the Taliban
The cricketing legend who could potentially be Pakistan's future prime minister, Khan says the United States should stop trying to destroy the Taliban
But Khan insists that, along with much else, his attitude to relationships has changed. 'I have gradually realised that although I know more about physical attraction than anyone else, actually the character of a person and the mind, the intellect, is much more important than the physical, because in my experience that has the smallest shelf life.
'That is what keeps the interest. I have great respect for my wife's intellect and character.'
I met Khan at his villa at Bani Gala, outside Islamabad. He normally avoids any public statements about his personal life but agreed to discuss it, even briefly alluding to his marriage to Reham, the author of a sensational memoir published earlier this month.
According to her book, Khan is bisexual, takes hard drugs, and has fathered at least five children out of wedlock – some by Indian women. It is a scandalous claim for the Pakistani audience for which her claims have been tailored.
As for Khan's marriage to Jemima, who is of Jewish descent, Reham claims this took place because he is close to 'active Zionists'. The marriage reportedly broke down because Jemima found life difficult in Pakistan, especially when her husband's political career took off. But Jemima has furiously rebutted Reham's claims, and has threatened to sue her for libel.
One of Khan's closest advisers told the MoS: 'This book is simply a farrago, a pack of absolute lies.' The source added that during Khan's ill-starred liaison with Reham, he had 'never seen him so unhappy'. The man himself would never stoop to comment on the book in detail, the adviser added.
He was right. But in his interview, Khan was prepared to go further than he has before. 'Normally I don't say anything about Reham, but I will say this: I've made some mistakes in my life, but my second marriage has to be the biggest.'
As for Jemima, they are 'of course' still good friends.
Khan's new marriage is just one aspect of an extraordinary personal and political trajectory. Ranked as one of the best-ever Test all-rounders, he may now be of pensionable age, but superficially he is little changed.
He still has a mane of dark hair and retains the physique of an athlete. This is all the more remarkable because during Pakistan's last election in 2013, he suffered a fall from an unstable platform, leaving him with a punctured lung and fractures in his skull, a rib and several vertebrae.
Jemima Khan (R) ex-wife of Pakistan's cricket legend turned politician Imran Khan reads a statement in local Urdu language
Jemima Khan (R) ex-wife of Pakistan's cricket legend turned politician Imran Khan reads a statement in local Urdu language
Imran Khan with his bride Reham Khan, praying during a ceremony at his home in Islamabad
Imran Khan with his bride Reham Khan, praying during a ceremony at his home in Islamabad
Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan (L) and former wife Reham Khan pose for a photograph during their wedding ceremony at his house in Islamabad in 2015
Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan (L) and former wife Reham Khan pose for a photograph during their wedding ceremony at his house in Islamabad in 2015
Reham Khan was married to Imran Khan for a matter of months before their romance fell apart
Reham Khan was married to Imran Khan for a matter of months before their romance fell apart
After retiring from cricket, he raised £20 million to build Pakistan's first specialist cancer hospital, which opened in Lahore in 1994. Two years later, he founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), or Movement for Justice. Slowly it has made electoral gains and is currently the third-largest party in the national assembly.
If PTI wins the election, it will be partly due to the imprisonment earlier this month of the former Muslim League prime minister Nawaz Sharif on money-laundering charges. Sharif was in power from 2013 until he was legally barred from office last summer.
It was Khan who campaigned for an investigation into the Sharif family's London property empire, which the MoS revealed is worth at least £33 million. He was convicted and jailed for ten years for failing to account for the funds he used to purchase four luxury Mayfair flats. In advance of the election, his party – now led by his brother, Shehbaz Sharif – has suffered a wave of defections to the PTI.
The PTI's manifesto promises not only to stamp out corruption but to turn Pakistan into a 'welfare state'. A Khan government would also have a very different attitude to the War on Terror. For years he has been an outspoken critic of British and American policy in Afghanistan, which he says has had disastrous consequences for his country, triggering home-grown terrorism. Only last week, a series of deadly bombings took place.
'We had nothing to do with 9/11, no Pakistani was involved,' Khan says, anger in his voice. 'But suddenly we were in the eye of the storm.
'I remember George Bush's words, 'We will not abandon Pakistan.' But after losing 70,000 of our people in militant attacks, and £75 billion from the economy, now we have been made scapegoats for the Americans' futile Afghan war.
'Apparently a few thousand Afghans supposedly operating from Pakistan are the reason why 150,000 Nato troops plus 250,000 Afghans could not win.'
Meanwhile, Pakistan is currently the biggest recipient of UK aid, receiving more than £450 million from British taxpayers last year alone. This, says Khan, must end. 'Right now, we are sinking in debt, so we need breathing space until we correct our governance system and raise our revenues. Beyond that, aid is a curse. You become dependent on it. Long-term aid is like heroin addiction.'
Pakistani analysts say that while PTI is likely to become the biggest party, it is less likely to win an overall majority, so will need support from others, probably from several small religious parties.
No one believes Khan is still the playboy of 40 years ago. But, say cynics, this means that however attractive her character, his main reason for marrying Bushra was that it was politically astute.
It is a charge Khan denies. Once, he admits, he was 'a totally non-spiritual person', but his 'spiritual journey' has already lasted decades. Moreover, driving it has been Sufi mysticism, a branch of Islam that focuses on the inner self.
'My interest in Sufism started 30 years ago. It changed my life,' he says. 'Sufism is an order with many levels, but I have never met anyone who is as high as my wife. My interest in her began with that.'
A famous face: British actress Elizabeth Hurley (R) and Pakistani politician and former cricket hero Imran Khan (L)
A famous face: British actress Elizabeth Hurley (R) and Pakistani politician and former cricket hero Imran Khan (L)
Imran Khan and Jemima Khan relax with their son Suleiman Khan at the HACAN Charity Cricket Match on Ham common in 2007
Imran Khan and Jemima Khan relax with their son Suleiman Khan at the HACAN Charity Cricket Match on Ham common in 2007
Saira Khan, ex-Apprentice contestant with Imran Khan in 2007. The cricketer is now running for president of the country 
Saira Khan, ex-Apprentice contestant with Imran Khan in 2007. The cricketer is now running for president of the country 
Imran Khan of Pakistan bowls for the Rest Of The World X1 against the MCC at Lords during the Bicentenary Match, August 1987
Imran Khan of Pakistan bowls for the Rest Of The World X1 against the MCC at Lords during the Bicentenary Match, August 1987
Imran Khan, with his wife Jemima who he divorced in 2004. The pair hinted that Jemima never fully adjusted to life in Pakistan
Imran Khan, with his wife Jemima who he divorced in 2004. The pair hinted that Jemima never fully adjusted to life in Pakistan
The Princess of Wales (L) and her friends Jemima and Imran Khan (R) at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore
The Princess of Wales (L) and her friends Jemima and Imran Khan (R) at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital in Lahore
In Pakistan, Bushra's fame as a Sufi scholar is widespread. She is known as a leader of pilgrimages to the shrine of the Sufi poet Sheik Fariduddin Ganjshakar at Pakpattan – one of the holiest sites on the subcontinent. Since their wedding, the couple have also been on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
Khan says Bushra's sister is a PTI member, and introduced the couple when he was struggling to understand the teachings of a 13th Century Sufi saint. He says he used to visit Bushra's house to listen to her explain these and other religious complexities: 'I would go and meet her and read the books she would recommend.'
Gradually, the visits became more frequent, and they began to grow close personally. But he says he would never have dreamed of proposing marriage had Bushra not, last autumn, got a divorce.
After a short interval, it was in January 'when I proposed to her without seeing her face'. He had to wait several weeks for an answer 'because of family issues: as anyone who marries once they have a family knows, it's difficult'. However, Khan's sons by Jemima have met Bushra, and he has begun to get to know her children, too.
Khan says that if he does win the election, Bushra will not attend official functions. The one-time nightclub habitué insists he does not mind. 'She meets very few people, but it suits me fine. I am past the age of socialising. I am quite happy with this life.'
In this, as in many other ways, a Prime Minister Imran Khan would be unique.
Imran Khan and Jemima Khan at a charity dinner in Lahore, Pakistan. The young bride, foremrly Jemima Goldsmith married Khan aged 21
Imran Khan and Jemima Khan at a charity dinner in Lahore, Pakistan. The young bride, foremrly Jemima Goldsmith married Khan aged 21
The Princess of Wales (R) and her friends Jemima and Imran Khan (L)(divorced June 2004) enjoy a show put on patients at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital
The Princess of Wales (R) and her friends Jemima and Imran Khan (L)(divorced June 2004) enjoy a show put on patients at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital

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