The former BBC TV presenter Reham Khan has described her marriage and divorce from Pakistani fast-bowling legend Imran Khan as a “painful” and “disturbing experience”.
In her first interview since the divorce earlier this month, Ms Khan told the Sunday Times that a “conspiracy” was hatched against her in Pakistan during the divorce and she was accused of being physically violent against Khan, attempting to “poison” him and was even alleged that she was a spy for Britain’s foreign intelligence service.
41-year-old Ms Khan, a former weather presenter for BBC Northwest, married the 62-year-old cricketer-turned-politician in a private ceremony near Islamabad in January.
The couple announced their split on 30 October with a spokesman for Mr Khan saying it was “amicable” and by “mutual consent”.
But while the pair may have parted ways amicably, the circumstances in the months running up to the divorce were anything but pleasant, according to Ms Khan.
She told the Times that the marriage was an example of “here is a woman, let’s demonize her, vilify her and burn her at the stake”.
She claimed that members of Imran’s political party the Pakistan Movement for Justice (PTI) had made it clear at the outset that they had “issues” with her taking up any sort of political work.
“I was specifically told by a senior party adviser they basically wanted me to be in the kitchen, to be cooking chapatis and not to be ever seen again” she claims.
When she was made an ambassador for street children in Peshawar, she was accused of trying to “ride his coat-tails”.
“There wasn’t any involvement, I never attended meetings or anything of the sort, but obviously there was insecurity,” she added.
Reham explained at length the various issues she faced on the domestic front during what she calls her “9-month ordeal”.
She said that Imran had proposed unexpectedly after a few meetings but things began going downhill almost immediately.
Reham, who has three children from her first marriage, claims that Imran’s sisters were of the view that she was “not good enough” for him while her brother thought Imran wasn’t “religious enough” for her.
As for her personal equation with Imran? The charismatic, Oxford-educated Imran was rather dull, according to Ms Khan.
“I tried to talk to him, I’m very talkative and I’m very chatty but, you know, you can’t exactly with Imran Khan. You can’t discuss the colour of the curtains, you can only talk politics. You cannot exactly discuss Bollywood films with him. God knows I tried.” He’s not very romantic. He never gave me anything, not even a wedding band” she said.
She also bemoaned her husband’s “sloppiness” when it came to clothes, describing his closet at his sprawling farmhouse near Islamabad as “moth-eaten” and in a “dreadful” state.
“I’m the sort of person who panics if my family is not looking right”, she said, adding that she had to buy Imran a new wardrobe and introduce things like “deodorants, and shampoos”.
She also claimed that Imran, who has said he is devoted to his two sons Sulaiman and Isa from his first marriage to British socialite Jemima Goldsmith, was not keen on her children.
“They would never come out… would never go to the kitchen,” she said.
But while Imran was “indifferent”, his dogs were less so, Reham claims.
“My whole day revolved around his dogs. His dog was in love with me”, she said.
In the weeks before their divorce, Reham claims she found “things emerging in the house.” She claims that Imran’s servants began telling her to not touch certain things.
Reham gave the interview to the Sunday Times in London but insists she will to return to Pakistan to take up work in journalism.
But she said that she has “no rights” and was “not entitled to anything” because the marriage was never registered in Pakistan or the UK.
Since announcing their split on October 30, the pair have had to reject a slew of claims ranging from the innocent to the outlandish – from accusations that Reham was “unkind” to Imran’s dogs to an attempt to poison Imran.
The marriage itself divided opinion in Pakistan with many accusing Ms Reham as being “too westernized”.
All part, Reham believes, of a wider plot against her.
She pointed to how news of their divorce began leaking out before a formal announcement was made.
“I asked (Imran) where they are getting this from?” she said, adding Imran told her to relax and it used to happen with him and Jemima as well.
“But it seems to me now that everybody was expecting it and everybody knew”, Reham said.