Khan She Bite? Sure Jemima Can

Yeh gori to bilkul pagal ho gayi hai. This was the popular reaction to the spiteful, hard-hitting article that Jemima Khan, ex-wife of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, wrote against Benazir in London’s Daily Telegraph. She scoffed at the former prime minister’s liberal credentials, accused her of playing America’s game, and concluded her article saying, “Make no mistake, Benazir may look the part, but she’s as ruthless and conniving as they come—a kleptocrat in a Hermes headscarf.” But at the beginning of the piece, Jemima cautioned the reader, “I admit I’m biased. I don’t like Benazir Bhutto. She called me names during her election campaign in 1996 and it left a bitter taste.

Nobody here recalls a catfight between the two ladies. Not even Saifullah Niazi, Imran’s personal assistant. He said, “No, I cannot remember anything specific between the two when Benazir was in power…except for a bomb blast at the Shaukat Khanum Hospital (Imran’s hospital) during PPP rule.” PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar told Outlook, “It was a very strongly worded article and no, I do not recall any acrimony between the two in the past.” Wisely, the PPP has ignored Jemima’s article, not even caring to respond to Imran’s piece that was featured on the same page as Jemima’s.

Interestingly, it was the Nawaz Sharif government that filed cases against Imran and Jemima. One of these accused Jemima of exporting antique tiles. Worse, Sharif’s luminaries repeatedly harped on Jemima’s Jewish identity, anathema to Muslims here. The hate campaign against her had then riled most Pakistanis who had warmed up to the foreigner who doted on her two sons, tried to embrace a new culture, and ran many charities.

Most newspapers here reproduced the husband-wife articles. But only the Lahore-based Daily Times chose to make an editorial comment. It said, “Calling Ms Bhutto ‘kleptocrat’ is all very well except that it comes from a woman who is an heir and beneficiary of her father Sir James Goldsmith, one of the twentieth century’s most notorious corporate raiders. What does Jemima Khan think of Eurotrash like Hugh Grant (of LA black hooker fame), and other friends and family whose several infidelities and drinks/ drug abuse are legion?”

About Jemima accusing Benazir of ‘kow-towing to the mullahs’, asks Daily Times, “What was Jemima Khan doing in Pakistan with that demure dupatta on her head, writing sanctimonious articles in the press about her great conversion to Islam? It didn’t take the same woman long to throw off her hijab and cavort in skimpy bikinis on French beaches with her man of the moment.”

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