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Satanic smear on Jemima

London, Sept. 29 (PTI): Pashtoon tribesmen in Pakistan have threatened to take up arms to defend the honour of Jemima Khan, wife of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan, after allegations that she once studied under “the blasphemer, Salman Rushdie”, the controversial Indian-born writer, a media report said today.

Jemima, who converted to Islam, recently earned her degree at Bristol University as a mature student, and hopes to study for a Masters in Comparative Religion some day. According to a report in The Independent daily, Urdu-language newspapers in Pakistan have claimed that her dissertation was reviewed by Rushdie and that her reading list included his controversial novel The Satanic Verses, which caused iran to declare a ‘fatwa’ against him.

She denies both allegations, insisting: “I have never met the man.”

The latest smear campaign got under way after Khan lashed out against corruption, singling out some powerful Punjab businessmen.

Most were supporters of the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and are believed to be behind the antiquities smuggling charges which bedevilled Jemima when customs seized boxes of replica tiles that she had sent to her mother.

The politically-motivated case was quietly dropped in 1999 after general Pervez Musharraf’s military coup.

Angered by the attack, Noor Mohammed Burki, a clan chieftain from Khan’s home region, has called for retribution against anyone who dares besmirch the cricket hero’s family name.

“We cannot tolerate baseless propaganda concocted by cowards,” Burki said in Kaniguram valley.

“We know how to treat them,” he was quoted as saying in the daily.

On the other hand Jemima shrugged off the attacks as Pakistani politicking.

She said “Imran is clean and it is very hard for the opposition to find anything against him. Generally they don’t bring the wives into it, and that has been upsetting.”

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