Cultural divide was too wide for Jemima

Published: Wednesday, June 23, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Karachi:The match between flamboyant Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan and British heiress Jemima failed to cross a cultural divide, Khan's former colleagues said, shedding light on their break up.

"To me it was a mis-match and a match which was a clash of culture," said veteran cricket commentator and columnist Omar Kureishi.

"I think Jemima was never happy living in Pakistan while Khan is a man of principle who would do everything but not bargain on his principles," said Kureishi, also a personal friend of Khan.

Charismatic Khan, who played 82 Tests for Pakistan, held captaincy in 48 matches and led the country to the World Cup glory in Australia in 1992, announced the split on Tuesday, calling it an amicable decision.

The break up comes nine years after Khan, a heart throb to millions of female fans, hit the headlines with his May 1995 marriage to Jemima the daughter of multimillionaire British businessman James Goldsmith.

But unlike his 21-year cricket carrier from 1971-92, Khan's matrimonial innings was short and turbulent, despite the arrival of two sons.

"Like every cricket fan, I am sorry to hear the news," Kureishi said.

"But since Khan is known as a man of strong opinion and resolve, this had to happen after he joined full time politics and was not spending time with Jemima."

Kureishi believed Khan's entry into politics was not a good move for his relationship, although a Pakistani wife would have been able to accommodate his ambitions.

"Had there been a Pakistani girl she would have given all for Khan's political career."

Former wicketkeeper and colleague Wasim Bari said he respected the way the couple separated.

"Like good, mature and educated people they decided to part ways rather than making it a public fight," said Bari.

Another teammate, Zaheer Abbas said Khan had always shown wisdom both on the cricket field and in his personal life.

"What he (Khan) thinks is good and wise he would do it, so he must have thought it is wiser for him and Jemima to separate," said Abbas.

Pakistani politician Raza Rabbani did not believe that Khan sacrificed his family life for politics.

"I think there is more to it than sacrificing personal life for politics, but it's their personal decision," he said.

Journalist Sehar Ali, who interviewed the couple on their personal life, feels it was difference of age besides clash of cultures.

"Yes, it was a clash of culture but age difference with Khan in his 50s and Jemima just 30 was another cause," she said.

"I think Jemima tried her best and nine years is an ample proof of it, she gave up her religion, life in England and learnt Urdu so you can't blame her for not trying.

"A Pakistani woman would have been different but every wife wants her husband spending time with her," Ali added.

Khan, who comes from a prominent family of ethnic Pashtuns was an Oxford University graduate in politics, philosophy and economics.

The couple's close friends said she found it hard to adapt to the local culture and remained uncomfortable in the conservative surroundings.

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