Those alluring eyes and that almost shy, sheepish smile; a self-assured gait of a true sportsman; a naive idealism that one can disagree with but is charming nonetheless. Add to it that tinge of genuine humanity and a good heart that the world has seen in his philanthropy and an overall drop-dead gorgeous personality despite the wrinkles that give away his age.
Imran Khan Niazi, even at age 60 plus and a divorce later, is considered one of the most eligible bachelors alive. May be that is why the news that he is under pressure from his family to remarry made front page news. Across the border, Indian tabloids are also animatedly talking about whether ‘The Khan’ is ready to bite the dust yet again. The Twitterati, of course, are feverishly hash-tagging the guy once again who has bigger issues to worry about, particularly right now with August 14 days away. Yet, the obsession with the eternal hunk’s marital status and romantic liaisons (or their absence) seems related also to a dirty culture of mudslinging fuelled by political agendas.
While Imran has paid a price for his ‘popularity’ since his cricket days, he is not the only politician who has come under attack of political opponents who believe in tabloid tactics. Back in the day, Benazir Bhutto’s pictures with friends, in modern attire, from her Oxford University days were plastered all over Karachi as a part of a campaign to smear her name. In true dynastic tradition, the young Bilawal Bhutto Zardari suffered the same fate.
Imran’s first marriage to Jemima Khan, in fact, also suffered due to constant paparazzi attention, calling that woman of substance a ‘Yahoodi ki beti’ among other choicest titles.
What I truly respected was how the couple parted ways. He never badmouthed his ex-wife and in fact took the blame on himself, if at all there was anyone to blame.
But then, it is not just limited to character assassination. A photograph allegedly from Imran’s visit to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Bannu, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) in early Ramadan in July made rounds on social media. The picture showed him drinking a glass of water, with the glass circled in read, and fascinating cheesy captions implying him to be a bad Muslim, and thus a villain who could never do anything good.
The picture from Bannu had credibility issues in any case. It was released many days before the date mentioned on the lower left side of the photograph.
With fame of any kind, one’s private life does come under the spotlight. But a line has to be drawn. While we, the awam, don’t necessarily cook up these stories, masses have been known to let their opinions and votes sway as a result of rumours. But in all honesty, more than being an interesting bit of information about a politician, what difference does Imran getting married make to our lives? It didn’t make a difference what Pervez Musharraf or Asif Ali Zardari or Shahbaz Sharif did in their private lives or how many times they married or who they were seeing. All we knew about them were ‘unconfirmed reports’ which didn’t matter. What mattered was whether they made a difference to the country or not; whether they served the nation or not.
If Imran marries, good for him. And I wish the national hero all the happiness in the world. If not, it’s his life. As a Pakistani, my concern and prayer is that he is able to contribute to the betterment and progress of a nation that needs hope and inspiration. The rest is not my business.