Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairperson Imran Khan has revealed that he did not see Bushra Maneka’s face till after they were married and that his earlier marriage to Reham Khan was “the biggest mistake” of his life.
Speaking about his third marriage in February this year, Imran during an interview with Daily Mail said, “I did not catch a glimpse of my wife’s face until after we were married. I proposed to her without seeing her because she had never met me without her face being covered with a full veil.”
He added, “The only idea I had of what she looked like came from an old photograph I had seen in her house.”
Imran explained that he had not seen Bushra Bibi’s face as the 39-year-old is a spiritual guide and “did not meet men other than her husband with her face uncovered, nor ventured unveiled outside her house, which she rarely leaves”.
The mother-of-five and Imran met for the first time three years ago, when she was still married to her first husband, a senior customs official named Khawar Fareed Maneka.
However, when Bushra Bibi finally did remove her veil, Imran said, “I was not disappointed, and now I am happily married.”
The PTI chairman did admit that back in the 1980s, it would “have been unthinkable if someone had told me I would marry someone whose face I hadn’t seen. I would have thought they were mad”.
But Imran insisted that, along with much else, his attitude to relationships has changed.
“I have gradually realised that although I know more about physical attraction than anyone else, actually the character of a person and the mind, the intellect, is much more important than the physical, because in my experience that has the smallest shelf life. That is what keeps the interest. I have great respect for my wife’s intellect and character,” he said.
Speaking about his marriage to broadcast journalist Reham Khan, Imran said, “Normally I don’t say anything about Reham, but I will say this: I’ve made some mistakes in my life, but my second marriage has to be the biggest.”
As for Jemima, they are ‘of course’ still good friends.
Further, Imran denied reports that his main reason for marrying Bushra Bibi was that it was politically astute.
He admitted that he was once “a totally non-spiritual person”, but his “spiritual journey” has already lasted decades.
“My interest in Sufism started 30 years ago. It changed my life,’ he said. “Sufism is an order with many levels, but I have never met anyone who is as high as my wife. My interest in her began with that.”
Imran further said Bushra Bibi’s sister who is a PTI member introduced them when he was struggling to understand the teachings of a 13th Century Sufi saint.
He said he used to visit Bushra Bibi’s house to listen to her explain these and other religious complexities: “I would go and meet her and read the books she would recommend.”
Gradually, the visits became more frequent, and they began to grow close personally. But he said he would never have dreamed of proposing to her had she not got a divorce last year.
After a short interval, it was in January “when I proposed to her without seeing her face”, he said.
Further, Imran said that he does win the election and becomes prime minister, Bushra Bibi will not attend official functions.
“She meets very few people, but it suits me fine. I am past the age of socialising. I am quite happy with this life,” he said.