| Suleman (left) and Qasim watch England cricketers practice in Rawalpindi and (below) Imran
Islamabad, Oct. 30: Imran Khan’s son has just failed a “cricket test” devised in the 1980s by a former boss of the British Conservative Party.
Suleman Khan, who turns nine in a few weeks, will not be rooting for Michael Vaughan and Andrew Flintoff when England square up to Inzamam-ul-Haq’s boys in a soon-to-start two-month series.
Suleman, who lives with mother Jemima Khan and six-year-old brother Qasim in London, will be supporting Pakistan, his divorced father has revealed.
Imran’s marriage may have collapsed partly because wife Jemima ' daughter of the late British millionaire Sir James Goldsmith and a prominent face in London’s socialite circles ' had failed to cross the cultural divide. But the son has succeeded where the mother stumbled.
Suleman may just have a smattering of Urdu, but he thinks and acts like a Pakistani, a proud Imran has declared. “He is very clear in (his) thoughts, and his sympathies would obviously be with the Pakistani cricketers,” Imran told The Telegraph in Islamabad.
This should bring a frown on the face of Lord Norman Tebbit, who had infamously questioned the loyalty and Britishness of minority groups in the UK who support the cricket teams of their countries of origin. The Tory boss was reviled for the “cricket test” ' dubbed the “Tebbit test” by critics ' he set for immigrants and their children.
Suleman and Qasim, both of whom hold dual British-Pakistani nationality, headed back to London today after having spent a few days with their father at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad. They watched both teams practice at the Rawalpindi Cricket stadium on Friday.
Imran said Suleman began showing a knack for cricket since early this year. “I don’t know whether he takes it up as a profession but he likes it,” Khan said, adding that both boys will return to Pakistan for their Christmas holidays.
Ever since the Khans decided to end their dream marriage in June last year, their sons have been spending their school holidays with their father in Pakistan
Suleman apparently understands Urdu though he speaks the language only haltingly. It’s not clear whether the children offer namaz or are familiar with the Quran, but they seem comfortable in salwars during their Pakistan visits.
Suleman’s way of thinking should gladden Imran, now an MP from the Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) party he leads. The former cricketer has reportedly said he hates the idea of Jemima’s current companion, actor Hugh Grant, becoming a possible role model for the boys. Imran is said to believe that Grant is a shallow film star who is interested only in golf and women.
The handsome Imran himself had been part of the socialite circuit in his playing days, repeatedly figuring in the British tabloids for his romantic exploits.
It’s not clear how Jemima would feel about the Pakistani bent in Suleman’s thinking. She is worried about her sons’ safety in Pakistan because the last time they were there, gun-toting hoodlums had stopped the car in which they were travelling with Imran.
Pakistanis should be happy. Jemima had sometimes had a problem finding acceptance, with fingers raised at her Jewish origins ' though this campaign may have been politically orchestrated by her husband’s opponents. But with the children, there can be no such reservations.
How would the British see it' Tebbit feels the climate of opinion in his country may have tilted ' ever so slightly ' towards his views. He had again mentioned his “cricket test” after July 7, when over 50 people were killed in London by British youth of mostly Pakistani origin, one of whom actually played serious cricket.
Had he been heeded two decades ago, Tebbit said, it could have stopped the bombings.
Britain, however, does not yet appear ready to go along with him.