Imran concentrates on politics after divorce

Published: Thursday, September 30, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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London:Imran Khan, the former cricket star, says he is putting all his energy into politics in his native Pakistan after his divorce from British socialite Jemima Goldsmith.

"For the first time, my politics will become my priority," said Khan, 51, a member of Pakistan's parliament, in an interview in the October 5 issue of Hello!, a popular British celebrity gossip magazine.

"I came into politics to bring about change," he added when asked if he'd be more effective if he allied himself with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government, rather than opposed it.

"You can't join the status quo and bring about change."

Khan and Goldsmith, 30, daughter of the late British tycoon Sir James Goldsmith, divorced in June in a simple Islamic ceremony after nine years of marriage and a year and a half of separation.

"We also had a registry office marriage so a legal conclusion to that will follow," the former Pakistan fast bowler and national cricket captain, who quit the sport in 1992, told Hello!.

Khan, founder of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Peace) party, remains close to the Goldsmith family -- so much so that his interview with Hello! took place at his former mother-in-law's mansion in southwest London.

He said his ex-wife's current relationship with Hollywood actor Hugh Grant was not a factor in their divorce, and that she was free to renounce Islam after converting prior to their marriage.

Of their children, aged seven and five, Khan said he and Goldsmith agreed that they would be raised as Muslims, but added: "I hope they will be bi-cultural."

Khan's political rivals had sought to exploit his marriage to Goldsmith -- whose father was part-Jewish -- to attack him, but he said he believed the Pakistani people as a whole still "love Jemima".

"It was the political mafia trying to get at me that made her life difficult," he said. "Maybe one day she will come back to Pakistan, but now it not the time. Perhaps in a year."

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