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Pakistan's Ridiculous Obsession With Imran Khan's Divorce

03/11/2015 8:23 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his newly-wed wife Reham Khan leave a local madrassa, or seminary, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Imran, Pakistan's legendary cricket star and politician, tied the knot with Reham, a former journalist, Thursday, ending weeks of speculation about whether one of the country's most famous bachelors was getting married for a second time. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

"Hum bewafa hargiz na thay, par hum wafa kar na sake." This Kishore Kumar song was not playing on a golden oldies radio show but on a news channel as the soundtrack to a story about the divorce of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his wife, journalist Reham Khan. As the song played, a picture of the couple popped up on the screen, followed by a sudden crack between the two to really drive home the point that they were parting. How dramatic can things get here?

Yes, their marriage has come to an end, a mere 10 months after they tied the knot in January. They have confirmed their divorce. And that's that, right? Not quite.

The initial announcement was made by a member of Imran's political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. This, along with Reham's tweet, was enough to make the divorce "breaking news" not only locally, but internationally. Locally, news channels were playing sad Bollywood songs and having "expert analyses" on this topic. And people on social media were busy making fun of the couple. The news which spread like wildfire was not taken well by Imran, after which he requested the public to "respect their privacy".

This is a painful time for me, Reham, and our families. I would request everyone to respect our privacy. I have the...

Posted by Imran Khan (official) on Friday, 30 October 2015

So is this really our concern? News channels and the population at large are behaving as if this is the first divorce case in the history of Pakistan -- what, how, why? they ask. And more ironic is the fact that experts on TV are quoting Islamic laws in regard to the annulment. Nobody ever discussed anybody's divorce and marriage like they did of Imran and Reham. Why is it so hard for the population to give them space to breathe?

People have spoken about their separation to an extent that Imran himself was forced to tell them that it is a "painful" time for them. But isn't gossip and sensationalism what we are best at? The couple has not told anybody about the reasons why they have taken this major step. However, that hasn't stopped anyone from making wild guesses. And even if the two tell the public why they separated, what difference will it make?

They are famous people. And if we as a society cannot spare a couple in the neighbourhood who go for divorce, then how is it possible to let Imran and Reham get away with it? Although no statistics are available to suggest the percentage of divorce cases in Pakistan, experts including lawyers have been saying that the divorce rate is at an all-time high. Yet who are we to judge anybody who takes such a step?

It is a pity that Imran and Reham are being made to go through this scrutiny because they chose to do something for the betterment of their own lives. And by the way, they went for divorce on mutual consent. Being a public figure does not mean that they do not have a right to privacy. I wish someday we can all just grow up and look at things in a different way. Here are some tweets I came across today and they are absolutely heartbreaking:

In between, there was news saying that the reason to why they separated was because Imran's sisters were against their marriage. Here is a tweet related to it. ("Nandh" is sister-in-law in our society):

First, separation is not something easy. And being bold enough to take such a step, knowing how society will react, is a brave thing to do. At least they didn't keep staying with each other scared of the famous loag kya kahen gay (what will people say) fear.

What Reham and Imran have done has nothing to do with politics. So those on TV and on social media who are politicizing it should really stop now. Secondly, they are adults who got married and separated later and they must have thought over it. So they are not actually in need of any suggestions or any vile comments telling them what people think about them. It is even hilarious to hear people on TV say that their age difference was the reason behind their incompatibility.

Come on people, leave them alone. An earthquake struck Pakistan just a few days ago and so many people have lost their lives and homes too. Instead of behaving like gossip queens or aunties who cannot spend a day without demeaning somebody, think about the earthquake victims because that is actually an important issue. In short, just get over the divorce story please.

As for Imran and Reham, many apologies but this society will talk about this divorce. Whether it is a divorce in their own family or of a celebrity couple, nobody is spared here sadly. (The rest of us are perfect after all so have every right to judge.)

But what can one really expect when even newspapers have made the split their front page story. Locally, the front pages of The Express Tribune, Pakistan Today, Daily Times, The Nation, The News and Daily Jang have carried the story. Internationally, Hindustan Times, Times of India and Khaleej Times have highlighted the story. Hasn't the front page always carried "important" news? Or news that actually has an impact on the people or the country in some way? What impact does a divorce have on anyone else? It's just fodder for gossip until something else comes along.

However, not everyone is playing judge and jury. Some people have expressed their support too:

Sad if true. Now hopefully everyone will move on from obsessing over his private life & concentrate on the politics & Pakistan

Posted by Saima Mohsin on Friday, 30 October 2015

Jinnah & Gandhi both had imperfect family lives, I dont see anyone judging their leaderships based on that #DrawTheLine #RespectPrivacy

Posted by Mohammad Jibran Nasir on Friday, 30 October 2015

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