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Huge Grant of relief
- UK papers salute ‘unmarried, beautiful heiress’

London, June 23: Pakistani culture is being blamed by the British media for the break-up of Imran Khan’s nine-year marriage to Jemima.

Their divorce, announced yesterday, has been covered in detail, with the Daily Mail predicting that Jemima will now become a much sought after and indeed pursued woman.

“At the relatively mature age of 30, she now becomes that most pursued of all species, the unmarried, beautiful heiress. Inshallah, she can cope with it,” smirks its correspondent.

The Mail’s line is critical of Imran and the Pakistani way of life. “In the male dominated society of Pakistan,” it tells its readers, “she desperately missed her friends and family in London, as well as the parties to which she was such a glamorous adornment. And he could never live her life in London because of an unshakeable belief in his destiny to be the President of Pakistan.”

The role of Hugh Grant, the actor who never got round to marrying Liz Hurley, his girlfriend for many years, is also coming under closer scrutiny. To be fair, there is no evidence that Jemima had become involved with him but equally there is no evidence that she hadn’t. “Imran went ballistic when he saw pictures of her out with Adrian Gill (writer and restaurant critic A.A. Gill) and they had a terrible row on the phone,” a friend is quoted by the Mail. “Then came pictures in the papers of her out with the actor Hugh Grant — and that was the last straw.”

The Mail provides an inside account of Jemima contacting Fleet Street newspapers to stifle the gossip: “Desperately, Jemima tried to douse the flames by personally e-mailing new- spapers, insisting there was nothing wrong with her marriage.

“As recently as two months ago, she e-mailed the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, protesting, ‘I would like to make it clear...that I am not having difficulties in my marriage, to which I remain committed’.”

The Mail says: “She also insisted that her friendship with Mr Gill and Mr Grant was entirely innocent.” The paper recalls “the cruelly accurate and acerbic prophecy of her much-married father, the late billionaire Sir James Goldsmith, ‘He’ll make an excellent first husband’.”

Jemima’s transition to Pakistan after marriage was difficult, the Mail points out.

“From her mother’s 18th century mansion at Ham Common, she found herself living in a small flat in dusty Lahore, without air conditioning, as her husband pursued his political dreams. Stories of her discontent began to filter back to friends in London. Imran was also said to be ‘different’ to her out there.”

It explains: “While in England he was the model of courtesy and chivalry, it was noticed that in Pakistan his tone was different — ‘quite sharp at times,’ recalls one guest who visited them in Lahore. ‘Jemima was quite mouse-like about it — not at all the real Jemima who has a temper and a very assertive manner like her father. But, then, this wasn’t England, it was Pakistan’.”

Imran, the paper makes clear, was inconsiderate.

Imran Khan and Hugh Grant
 
 

“Imran angered and dismayed Jemima and her family by failing to fly over for her 30th birthday party in London in January (Hugh Grant was among the guests) and then failing to put in an appearance at the April launch party at the Ritz of her mother Lady Annabel’s autobiography, An Unconventional Life.”

The Mirror focuses on Hugh Grant. It reports: “Less than two weeks ago, mini-skirted Jemima was pictured leaving Annabel’s night club in London with Grant in his chauffeur-driven Mercedes.

“A close friend of the couple said the pictures were ‘the last straw — Imran was furious, absolutely livid. It didn’t look like the way a Muslim wife should behave’.”

The paper draws attention to the sacrifices she has had to make. According to a source, “she spent the first years of her married life in a cramped family compound with the most basic amenities”.

The Times report is headlined, “Cultural rift ends Imran’s marriage”. The paper has a picture of Jemima, miniskirt riding up her thigh in the back of a car with Grant.

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, an expert in inter-faith marriage, agreed that cultural differences were often far more problematic than theological differences in such unions.

“Very often it’s the cultural traditions such as dress codes and how you run your home that are the sticking points,” he says.

“Most people say they are not very religious, but they are influenced by religious culture more than they think. Once they set up home with someone they start thinking back to their own childhood home and it is then the differences begin to emerge.”

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