While accepting her fault for allowing their consensual yet illicit relationship to continue for as long as it did, television and film actor Hajra Khan Panezai has stated that by getting to know former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan up close, her expectations turned into disillusionment.
She said this during the launch of her tell-all book, [Where the Opium Grows: Surviving as a Woman, an Actress, and Now Imran Khan], in Islamabad.
The book spends a large amount of time on her relationship with Imran Khan. Hajra claims the book was originally written in 2014, but for various reasons, including fear of retribution and the fact that it was far too concise, it could not be published in print form then. In the years since, she worked to expand the material, which was finally published.
Imran is currently in jail, facing multiple cases, including Toshakhana, cipher, and Al Qadir Trust, among other accusations of graft and violating the Official Secrets Act.
During the question and answer session of the event, Hajra responded to a question about consent by stating that she was at fault for allowing the relationship to continue.
"In my naivete, I was consenting [of the relationship]," she said.
She further said that Imran Khan was a crush, as he was for many other women across ages and backgrounds.
"Some women still crush on him to this day," she added.
However, by getting to know the former national cricket team captain closely was a horrifying experience. Moreover, she claimed that being associated with him impacted her career, especially after the book was published.
She said that she was brutally trolled online, her social media accounts and email were hacked, causing her to lose communication with the publisher. She was also vilified by the public and had to live under the cover of secrecy.
She claimed that the image of Imran as a 'messiah' (who can do no wrong) by his supporters is frightful.
"I worry about the next generation."
About the launch of the book, she admitted that a concise version of the book had been published on the global e-book marketplace Amazon in 2014. She added that it was a biography that she had written for catharsis. She later admitted that the original book was ghost-written but concise, making up a very small part of the book launched now.
She further said that since she wrote it in 2014, it was not written to fulfil some political agenda. However, she added that she had introduced her father to Imran and that her father was even a part of PTI for a while but she was now ashamed of this fact.
"I did not know he would go on to become the prime minister."
She hoped that people would find the book interesting because it is about a common girl from Quetta.
"A girl from Quetta joining the showbiz industry, attending parties, meeting very prominent individuals at said parties, and then being pursued by one of these individuals are the experiences I want to share," she said, adding that it is not always the case that a commoner pursues someone famous.
"I was not interested in cricket or politics, but some people are national heroes, and you respect them," she said while explaining how she consented to the relationship.
When they had a relationship, Hajra said that this was a time when Imran was more known as a prominent cricketer and had just begun his political career with a small pressure group.
"He was not a big politician back then; today, he is a former prime minister," she noted, adding that their relationship was in 2011.