Prime Minister Imran Khan is an exemplary personality in many ways. He is the country’s most well-known philanthropist with big charity cancer hospitals to his name and a university built for the poor and underprivileged. Despite his playboy past, he is an ascetic today, determined to say goodbye to the life of privilege and pleasure. His third marriage to a saintly Bushra Bibi was his act of penance and final submission to God.
Khan won Punjab in a “miracle” election and decided to break the luxury code of the past by appointing its new chief minister from Taunsa, a backward part of south Punjab where he lived without electricity in his house. But Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is a feudal and has got all the Khan’s pious signals wrong. He knew about Khan’s loyalty to saint Baba Farid whose tomb in Pakpattan is about 188 km from Lahore. (In fact, that is where he met his latest deeply religious wife who controls jinns, fiery invisible creatures mentioned in the Quran.)
It was the practice of Khan’s wife when she was earlier married to Khawar Maneka to walk barefoot from her residence in Pakpattan to the tomb prostrating herself every now and then in the direction of the “mazhar”. In the last week of August, a crisis was triggered when her children from Khawar Maneka embarked on this trip in the wake of a rumour that had the Punjab administration in a tizzy: That Bushra Imran Khan herself was undertaking the holy walkathon, as in the past.
First, the Pakpattan police stopped Bushra’s children — it is said without recognising them — for blocking the road. Then they tried to stop their father, Maneka, at a security checkpost, only to see him drive off defiantly. The children were stopped again and this time the son brought armed guards to face off the police and father Maneka arrived on the scene to confront the cops. He accused the police of harassing his daughter. CM Buzdar moved too after another character linked to Imran Khan’s wife arrived at the CM house. This was Ahsan Gujjar, son of Iqbal Gujjar of Gujranwala, many times a Muslim League MPA in Punjab and owner of some contested housing societies, linked to Bushra Khan through ex-ISI Col Riaz whose daughter was a close friend of hers. (The Khans, it is said, were secretly married in Ahsan Gujjar’s house in Lahore.)
CM Buzdar was made to call Pakpattan’s district police officer (DPO) Rizwan Gondal to the CM House in Lahore. He ordered him to apologise to the Manekas for what the police had done to their children, which he refused. He was threatened by Ahsan Gujjar, then present in the CM House. He later revealed that he was also ordered by an ISI (secret service) officer of the army to do so. He was thereafter posted out of Pakpattan by the Inspector General Police Punjab, overawed by the feudal network activated on the side of Prime Minister Khan’s wife’s family.
The plot thickened. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar took suo motu notice of how the police officer had been removed at one in the morning and called the IG police to his court in Lahore. He also summoned Khawar Maneka who had tangled with the police in Pakpattan but Maneka, a grade-21 senior officer in the Customs Department, excused himself saying he had to pick up his granddaughter from her school. His show of muscle indicated that he wanted to put the power of the prime minister to test. CM Buzdar was himself acting on the basis of his tribal instinct which is totally irrelevant to democracy.
Too many unsavoury facts have come to light and seem to connect with Imran Khan’s pious wife who, the press reports, controls jinns and feeds them with meat on the roof of Khan’s spacious Banigala house in Islamabad. Imran Khan has published an account of his life in Pakistan: A Personal History (2011), describing how he won the Lamb-Botham libel suit against him with the help of his clairvoyant mentor, late Mian Bashir, who had also disarmed his sceptical first wife, Jemima, by accurately guessing her secret wishes.
The writer is consulting editor, Newsweek Pakistan