Islambad: As cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan edges closer to ruling Pakistan, the country that he has promised to change, after a general election hit by delayed counting of votes and rigging allegations by major parties, his fans are already calling him “Prime Minister Imran Khan”, even as his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) hasn’t made any announcement.
Jemima Goldsmith, the first wife of the thrice-married, too, made haste with a tweet and congratulated her “sons’ father” for the “win”.
Mr Khan’s nine-year marriage to British socialite Jemima Goldsmith ended in 2004. She had converted to Islam before marrying the 65-year-old former fast bowler. He was 42 and she was half his age. She moved to Lahore to start a life with her Oxford-educated husband. Soon he launched his political career as his new wife tried to adjust to her new surroundings.
Ms Goldsmith spoke about Mr Khan’s political journey and highlighted his sense of humour on Twitter. “I remember IK’s 1st election in 1997- untested, idealistic & politically naive. I waited up for the call in LHR with 3 mo old Sulaiman, who I had lugged around the country. Eventually he called. “It’s a clean sweep” & after my gasp, “… the other way.” He roared with laughter,” she said in a now-deleted tweet.
The couple has two sons, Sulaiman and Kasim, who returned to Britain with their mother after the divorce, which Mr Khan had attributed to “geographical problems” and “difficulties of cross-cultural marriages”. He had also told NDTV that “political life was a nightmare for her”.
However, Pakistan remains her “beloved old friend”. When Pakistan voted for a new government on Wednesday, she tweeted, “Happy Election Day Pakistan, you maddening, beautiful, crazy, beloved old friend. Here’s hoping the people who count your votes, let your vote count. And you get the leader you believe in. Pakistan Zindabad!”
Mr Khan married again in 2015. His second bride, Reham Khan, was a weather reporter for the BBC. The marriage lasted barely 10 months.
In the run-up to the nation election, Mr Khan faced an onslaught of reports based on leaks from an explosive tell-all autobiography by Reham Khan. The book talks about Imran Khan’s affairs, including alleged homosexual flings.
The leaks ahead of the elections, are just a coincidence, she said.
This year, after months of speculation and rumours, the PTI chairman confirmed his marriage to Bushra Maneka (also known as Pinki Pir) in February. Their wedding photographs showed the bride hidden behind a veil.
As votes are still being counted, the PTI is leading in 119 of the 272-seats, still short of the majority mark of 137. However, five major parties have alleged blatant rigging. Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, called it the “dirtiest election” he has ever seen. The Election Commission of Pakistan has attributed the delay to technical glitches.
Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or PML-N is ahead in 61 constituencies, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by Bilawal Bhutto, son of assassinated two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is leading in 40 constituencies.