The Reham chronicles

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  • Sensationalising a non-issue

Not often do we see people debating over books in Pakistan but past few weeks have seen the country’s obsession with books. First it was the The Spy Chronicles, written jointly by former Indian and Pakistani intelligence chiefs, and now it is Reham Khan’s yet to be published tell-all.

Much hue and cry was created over The Spy Chronicles but the controversy surrounding the book was soon buried after the media in Pakistan found a better topic to debate on. This was none other than a book written by Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s ex-wife Reham Khan, a couple that has been in the limelight since their marriage till divorce and post-divorce chatters.

The book has gained popularity even before its release for its content which the PTI deems too controversial and libelous to be published. People all over the world are always interested in the lives of politicians as they are public figures while books and accounts are often written on them, involving their conduct in personal and professional lives. Reham did nothing different. Since it’s her biography, she only gave an account of her marriage and divorce with Imran Khan. Reham repeatedly says that her marriage is one of the ‘many things’ discussed in the book but the PTI clearly seems to have gotten very upset with Imran’s mentions in the book, hence the allegations and counter-allegations.

According to leaked manuscripts several journalists claimed to have received, Reham alleges PTI of using sexual favours for political positions and claims that her ex-husband had illicit relations with female journalists and party leaders. She goes as far as calling Imran a gay and that he has close ties with some active Zionists. This does not come off as a surprise to most as many people know what goes on behind closed doors and behind the cameras. Politics, as they say, is dirty business and so is media, but when combined, it becomes something very lethal and damaging for the society.

Pakistan largely remains a conservative society and the conventional people do not like Imran for his messed up private life which has always been very public

However, what surprises one is that out of all the people, how Hamza Ali Abbasi first got his hands on the book – a celebrity known to stir controversy with his hypocritical and misogynistic remarks over various subjects. He is disliked by many for his moral policing on social media but since he has already stolen many hearts with his acting debut in hit TV serials like Pyare Afzal and Mann Mayal, he is less likely to be criticised over his political views. And these political views are what got him a prime time show on Bol TV and so he is now one of their highest paid anchors.

Hamza was the one to start all of this debate on Reham’s not yet published book with his single tweet giving his so-called review of the book. The summary given by the CSP-turned-actor-turned-journalist was quite obvious – IK is the most evil man to walk the face of this planet. Reham is the most pious righteous (Tahajjud guzaar) woman ever and Shehbaz Sharif is an amazing guy!

That was it. This tweet posted the media went crazy, inviting Hamza on every talk show to take his two cents on this ‘national issue’ – a book which may or may not have these allegations against Imran and his party. Upon contacting Reham, she remains calm and simply says how she would know what the leaked manuscript has written in it since she has not seen it. She neither denies nor accepts the content of the book’s manuscript being leaked on media but she has surely sent PTI in frenzy as with elections coming closer and Imran expecting premiership of the country, the book can prove to be damaging for the party. No wonder #RehamKhan, #RehamKhanBook and #RehamOnPMLNAgenda kept trending on Twitter for a week, giving the book way too much publicity than it deserved.

Pakistan largely remains a conservative society and the conventional people do not like Imran for his messed up private life which has always been very public. Other politicians also have multiple wives but they are not a highlight in media like Imran’s. This is because of the same charisma and same appeal that drew voters to the party, making it emerge as the second biggest political party in the country in the previous elections.

Whether or not Reham’s book is ‘vulgar and against family values’ (as PTI terms it), it has surely created much hype about it before its release and there no doubts left that it will be a bestseller as many people are now anxiously waiting for its launch, thanks to the priorities in media. At a time when there should be election debate on media, as to how these political parties have performed in the centre and provinces in their tenure, the media is busy sensationalising an issue as trivial as Reham’s book – that too unpublished.