| torn apart: Imran and Jemima after their civil wedding in London. (AFP file picture)
London, June 22: Imran Khan, 51, and his wife, Jemima, 30, shocked London society today by announcing they have divorced after nine years of marriage.
Although the couple has been living separately for the past year and a half — Imran in Islamabad, following his political star, and Jemima in London, where she was said to be pursuing an MA course at the School of Oriental and African studies — the news of the divorce has stunned many people.
But not Shahed Sadullah, editor of the English language section of the Daily Jang newspaper in London and one of Imran’s long-standing friends.
“It’s sad,” said Sadullah, adding he was not surprised.
In recent weeks, there has been gossip that Jemima had become friendly with the English actor Hugh Grant, Liz Hurley’s former boyfriend.
In a statement, Imran hinted the differences were more to do with Jemima’s inability to adjust to life in Pakistan.
The divorce appears to have taken place in London, where the couple married in the summer of 1995 at Richmond Register Office following a nikaah in Paris.
“I sadly announce that Jemima and I are divorced,” the statement said.
“This was a mutual decision and is clearly very sad for both of us. My home and my future is (sic) in Pakistan. Whilst Jemima tried her best to settle here, my political life made it difficult for her to adapt to life in Pakistan.”
General sentiment in London was more with Jemima who was 21 when she married Imran, the former Pakistan captain who had led his country to World Cup triumph in Australia three years previously. He was exactly twice her age, and had made full use of the fact that many European women found him attractive.
Jemima went out of her way to be a good and loyal wife. She converted to Islam, dressed modestly, made an effort to learn Urdu, went to live in Pakistan with her husband and campaigned for him during elections. She bore him two sons, Suleiman and Qasim, now aged eight and four.
However, giving up the high life in London required adjustment on the part of Jemima who was born on January 30, 1974, into the lap of luxury as the daughter of the maverick billionaire, Sir James Goldsmith.
When stories about her friendship with Hugh Grant first surfaced, especially at the time of her 30th birthday when her husband was absent, Imran responded angrily.
“I have put up with this for nine years,” he raged. “Jemima is studying abroad, she is doing a Master’s degree. She will be moving back to Pakistan after that.”
Akbar Babar, central information secretary of Imran’s Justice Party, said: “Imran is in Pakistan and was in parliament today. Jemima is in England. Both feel very sad about this. He’s concerned for the children obviously. Most of the details have been amicably settled.”
Sadullah said: “It’s not a blame game. She gave it her best shot. The marriage really failed because she could not get used to Pakistan and Imran’s future and his home are in Pakistan.”