ISLAMABAD - Journalist and former wife of Imran Khan, Reham Khan in an exclusive interview to The Nation on Wednesday denied any intention of joining active politics for now. She said presently her primary interest was social welfare projects she was involved in.
Reham said that 60 per cent of children in Pakistan die because of water-related sicknesses.
“I want to work on child protection and if I managed to save even a single kid’s life, I will consider I have done something worthwhile,” she said.
She said that as a mother she could imagine the pain and agony parents who lose their kids could feel.
Reham said that her main objective was to work for the welfare of children and to ensure protection of their rights.
“I never want to be identified as a specific person [or in a specific role] and nor do I believe in destiny because it means life is over once you achieve a specific target or goal”, Reham said.
She said that she did not want to confine her role to a specific project.
“I always want to work without any discrimination and provide best possible assistance to people,” Reham said.
“My main focus however will be of course on KP as I belong to the region,” she added.
When asked about the limited scope of NGOs and their ability to deliver in any significant form, Reham said that in case of Reham Khan Foundation (RKF) she did not rely on reports submitted to her rather preferred to go out in the field and verify the data.
She said that she was also working in close cooperation with a number of very credible charities doing a lot of good work.
Reham said that in Pakistan around 22.6 million kids were out of school.
“I [or any other NGO] cannot send such a large number of children to school alone. It is the primary responsibility of the government and other state institutes,” she said.
She said that she wanted to implementation of Child Protection laws in letter and spirit.
When asked about why she did not enter politics, Reham replied, “I had offers in England too. [Back then] my kids were too young. That was why I declined. I believe it is a mission to work and raise voice for the oppressed class.”
Reham said, “When I arrived in Pakistan I had offers from a couple of political parties but I did not want to leave my job. I come from a family of professionals and [as you know] politicians [in Pakistan] do not enjoy a good reputation. Politics seemed too messy to me.”
She said that her biggest support base were women. Reham said that a large number of women in the country were not registered as voters and were living as “a minority” with very limited resources at their disposal.
Given that politics in Pakistan demanded making compromises on principles, Reham said that for her it was not possible.
She said, “Politics should not be so bad. People are reluctant. I want genuine persons [to work with].”
Reham said, “If I get the right offer, I might think about joining a political party.”
She said, if she decided to go into politics she did not want to be another toothless politician.
Reham said that a number of qualified Pakistani professionals living abroad were interested in playing an active role in Pakistani politics if they were provided a level playing field.
She said that the Pakistani nation was interested in the outcome of Panama leaks case.
Reham said that she never took interest in Panama leaks case.
“In my personal opinion, the politicians will get a clean chit,” she said.
Reham said that she did not know who advised [Imran Khan] to take Panama leaks case to the courts.
She said that she did not think it was legally the right forum.
“I feel PM is not going to get cornered by this case. I strongly feel the SC has other important cases,” Reham said.
She said that the Panama leaks case had taken a hype due to pressure from different quarters.
Courts should [rather] look into [other] cases that are important in nature, Reham said.
Reham said that at the moment she was just a potential voter and not a politician.
She said that at the moment like many others she was highly confused where to cast her vote.
I voted for change in 2013, many overseas Pakistanis wanted change for the betterment. This musical chair-type change was not expected, Reham said.
She said that she did not see many positive changes in the KP.
Reham said that Kalsoom Saifullah produced wonders and worked devotedly in Lakki Marwat.
“Now look at the government formed in the name of change in KP. It has just a single woman in the provincial cabinet,” she said. Reham said that reserve seats were by no means a respectable way of treating the voice of women voters.
I want direct contest for women MPs, she said.
Police reform was a good initiative in KP, but we also need road infrastructure in the province, Reham said.
She said that women participation should not be simply restricted to bomb disposal squads or traffic wardens.
It’s good, but not enough, Reham said.
She said that the KP government also needed to focus on issues of domestic violence, sexual abuse of boys, and crime against transgender persons.
Reham said that KP government did not focus on uprooting extremism.
She said that the provincial government had yet to focus on updating educational curricula, provision of water in areas like Dera Ismail Khan, Haripur and Bannu.
Reham said that sectarian violence in the province was on the rise.
Talking about the PSL, she suggested that Darren Sammy should be given the highest civilian award of Pakistan.
Sportsmen are role models and Sammy is an amazing role model, Reham said.