Reham Khan demanded £35,000 to write article on divorce, claims Newsweek

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ISLAMABAD: In a startling revelation, hours after broadcast journalist Reham Khan’s opinion piece was published in British newspaper the Guardian, Newsweek Pakistan has claimed they had initially commissioned the piece but refused when Reham demanded a staggering £35,000 for the op-ed.

“Reham Khan’s Guardian piece was originally commissioned by Newsweek Pakistan. Once edited, her newly-hired press rep asked for £35K. We politely declined,” Newsweek Pakistan Associate Editor Rimmel Mohydin tweeted.

However, Nosheen Iqbal, features commissioning editor at theGuardian, clarified that no fee was charged to the British newspaper. “Is that definitely true? I edited/ran the Reham Khan piece in the Guardian. No fee whatsoever.”

Newsweek replied to Iqbal saying, “What you edited was our edit of the piece.” To this, Iqbal responded, “I was obviously unaware of this, it was presented as an original piece, will be following up thanks.”

However, Reham refuted the claim saying, “Broad sheets do not pay. I went for highly respected publications.”

“I have not been paid for any article or interview,” she added in response to a tweet seeking clarification.

Further, she said the article is “running for free.”

In a statement later, Newsweek Pakistan said it pitched the article to Reham on November 3, offering her its standard op-ed rate of Rs10 per published word as payment for her efforts.

“This was considered sufficient until Newsweek reverted the article to her on Nov 8, a day after she submitted it, for post-editing approval. By that point, Ms. Khan had hired a publicist who took over correspondence with Newsweek Pakistan.”

Reham’s publicist asked Newsweek to ‘hold’ the article until remuneration had been agreed upon to which Newsweek reiterated its earlier offer.

“In response, Rajah said this was insufficient and she was “potentially aiming for the £35K mark” alongside a “guarantee” of coverage in Newsweek’s various international editions. She also asked Newsweek Pakistan to feature Ms. Khan’s article as its cover story.”

Newsweek, the statement added, declined to run the article edited by its staff and wished Reham the best in her future endeavors.

“A few days later, on Nov 13, Rajah sent another email to Newsweekasking if the publication would reconsider. After the publication’s experiences with Rajah and Ms Khan, it decided against pursuing this any further.

Less than a week later, Newsweek Pakistan’s edit of Ms. Khan’s article was featured on The Guardian.”

In the opinion piece, Reham said she parted ways with Imran Khan to relieve the unimaginable pressure on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) chairman so that he could focus on his mission.

“I felt compelled to make a graceful exit hoping that the unimaginable pressure on my husband would cease and he could focus on his mission. Love isn’t always about hanging on. Sometimes it’s about letting go.” Reham wrote.

Reham also accused Imran Khan’s political party for trying to curb her independence. Speaking about her first interview after her marriage to Imran Khan, she wrote she was taken off guard when the anchor asked about her suffering domestic violence at the hands of her ex-husband.

“The following day, my first husband denied the allegations and said my answer was a complete lie. I was advised by Imran’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), not to respond,” Reham wrote.

“This became the beginning of the end of the woman I had been; a woman who had defied oppression, who had never confined herself to stereotypes, suddenly in a position where she was expected to conform to traditional behaviour associated with Pakistani political wives and first ladies. Everything that I stood for – from women’s rights, social freedom, independence of thought and a voice of one’s own – had to be compromised. And I willingly did so, out of love,” Reham added.

Reham said she was targetted even after both she and Imran Khan announced that she would no longer be a part of PTI campaigns. “When my campaign appearances for the PTI were criticised, I disappeared from the public eye. From both our Twitter accounts we clearly stated that I would never have a role in the party. But that wasn’t enough to put a stop to the censure.”

Further, she said the national bhabi (sister-in-law) made things worse for the couple because then the whole nation had a say in their private affairs. “Women in our society generally complain of an interfering mother-in-law or sister-in-law, but being the national bhabi (sister-in-law), meant the whole country was my susral (in-laws); it meant everyone had a say.”

“A “celebrity couple” wants the same things that an average couple wants and can have similar domestic problems. Admittedly, because we were in the public eye, everyone felt they had a right to get involved in our private affairs. Marrying a man most people have become accustomed to seeing as the country’s foremost bachelor compounds the problem further,” she added.

Further, Reham accused the media of having double standards when it came to men and women. “When the news of my marriage to Imran Khan, Pakistan’s cricket star turned politician, broke in January this year, my sister joked that the way I was being introduced in the press – as talaaq yafta (divorcée) – seemed to almost be a qualification, like a degree.”

“I was described by the media as a divorced mother-of-three while, unsurprisingly, my husband’s previous marriage to Jemima Goldsmith was not discussed. I watched in dismay how the media spared no personal details to feed their bulletins – including flashing my children’s birth certificates on their screens. Where they found no information, they liberally filled in the blanks with their own imaginations,” she added.

Moreover, Reham wrote that although she went on to marry the ‘strongest man in the land’, it couldn’t protect her from the hate campaign her. She went on to say that she felt more secure when she was unmarried after her first divorce.

 “It still surprises me how people I have never met and who are sitting miles away, are capable of giving reliable information about me. It wasn’t the ease with which the vitriol poured from the press, it was the complacency with which the nation watched it day after day that confirmed a deep-rooted misogyny. As I met different diehard professional female PTI supporters, I urged them to come forward and become active in politics. The answer was always the same: ‘Look at what they are doing to you! We cannot tolerate the attacks you put up with.’”

Dejected by her experience as Imran Khan’s wife, she wrote that she had lost faith in humanity and love. “To me, now, it feels as if the value of a wife’s love and devotion is worthless. The price of a stamp is all you need as a man in Pakistan to shut the doors of your house to a woman who had made it a home. The decision to take away a roof from a woman’s head can be made in a flash. At 42 and after two marriages, it’s back to square one. Things that you leave behind are insignificant – they can be bought again.”

In the end, Reham wrote they both were responsible for the relationship’s breakdown. “We are both mature adults who, between us, have an accumulated wisdom of more than a hundred years. It happened because we allowed it to happen. In the absence of any serious differences of opinion or unreasonable demands, if a bond breaks that easily, it means it has not been cemented together with strong communication. Conjecture about what the reason was, who was behind it and when it was triggered is pointless.”

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