Hamza Ali Abbasi, avid supporter of the PTI and part-time scowler on television dramas, seems to have embarked on an unintentional promotional tour for the upcoming book written by Reham Khan, estranged former wife of Imran Khan.
Ever since the two got divorced back in 2015, rumours of an upcoming book or tell-all interview made the rounds. Yes, Ms Khan had been interviewed by many television channels back then, with the interviewer mining for dirt, but the lady had more or less restricted herself to the unceremonious nature in which she was divorced. There was always the lingering feeling that she’s saving up “the good stuff” for later.
It even became a political one-liner. “Imran Khan? Woh toh siraf Reham Khan ki aik kitaab ya tafseeli interview ki maar hai,” the League’s Rana Sanaullah had quipped.
Some within the PTI (most notably, the aforementioned Abbasi) are claiming that the League has funded the book. The reason that they are giving is that some League leaders have been revealing information in the book for some time now. That isn’t much by way of proof. The rumour mills have been rife with some of the specifics for some time now.
The first time that public at large got to know of the specifics was when a pre-action defamation notice was sent to Ms Khan by legal counsel representing Zulfiqar “Zulfi” Bukhari, Ms Khan’s former husband Ijaz Rehman, cricketing legend Wasim Akram and PTI’s international media coordinator, Anila Khwaja.
The notice made its way to the internet and social media. It mentioned some of the salacious material that the upcoming book allegedly contained and calling it risqué would be an understatement.
The irony here is that whatever is detailed in the book has made it to the public through the defamation notice, not the book itself, which might not even include some of this offensive content.
Shahzeb Khanzada, who has really come into his own at his show, conducted perhaps the best program on the issue, not just because his guest list comprised of what other anchors would give a month’s salary for: both Reham Khan and Hamza Abbasi.
He grilled both sides adequately. Her, he asked about whether there were these accounts in her book and whether it was appropriate to make these claims, especially about women. She countered by pointing out the intellectual property theft that the other side has done by stealing the manuscript. Yes, but does that mean you concede this is what was stolen and that these allegations are, indeed, in the book? No, she said, I will not reveal what is in the book and will publish it when it is good and ready.
Him, he asked about his allegation that Ms Khan took a hundred thousand pounds from the League and whether he had any proof to the effect. Abbasi took the same line he has been providing for some time: why should I have to provide proof?
If you’re asking me for a receipt, of course I don’t have it. I just have sources that have informed me this. But you have to have some proof, Khanzada said. No, I don’t have a proof and these things don’t have proof.
On subsequent shows, Abbasi has taken to saying that the League alleges that there is a conspiracy against it by the establishment but no one asks them for proof.
Abbasi is a pretty little thing, in over his head, and probably hasn’t read a book from cover to cover in his life. His is the sort that would have cleared his CSS exams by reading books like Dogar Sons’ “Who’s Who in Pakistan.” A comment on the deplorable selection standards to the elite cadres in the country rather than his intellect.
He genuinely cannot understand that regardless of anything else, he has to apologise or cough up what the court will almost certainly decide in response to Reham Khan’s defamation notice against him (she was prompt.)
The real money for Reham Khan is in the UK, which has tougher libel standards than the US. Not many in the US would be interested.
Ms Khan would have been a player of three-dimensional speed chess if most of these claims are not in the book itself and she has faux-leaked them out. Abbasi would have egg on his face and would have to sheepishly offer an apology; the PTI would be shamefaced, in part because the actual book would still have juicy bits in, in part because the bits not published would still be in the public’s imaginations; the book sales would still be pretty high.
This is the sort of buzz that the best of literary agents wouldn’t be able to work up.
Ms Khan might be above certain graces, as some of the excerpts of the book would suggest, but she should still do the right thing and give Abbasi a cut of the profits.