Jemima Goldsmith speaks about herself

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An interview full of disclosures

Jemima Goldsmith

IN a hard-hitting interview with the ‘Evening Standard’, Jemima Khan discusses her marriage with PM Khan. Jemima Khan revealed that like Monica Lewinsky, she felt used.

After her divorce from PM Khan, Jemima pursued a master’s from SOAS. Later she began a lucrative career centering on documentary film-making. One of the documentaries she made was about Monica Lewinsky, the woman who allegedly had an affair with former US President Clinton. The affair led to President Clinton’s impeachment.

Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky became one of the subjects of Jemima Khan’s documentary titled “Impeachment” currently airing in the US. During the filming, she became friends with Monica Lewinsky.

Jemima Khan spoke at length about working with Lewinsky on the documentary and how it made her realize aspects of her life.

“During the interviews, she was describing the FBI sting, and I suddenly realized that same year, in Pakistan, I’d had to leave the country because I’d also been threatened with jail on politically trumped charges. I’d been accused of smuggling antiques, one of the few non-bailable offenses in Pakistan,” Jemima said.

A heavy price paid

Back in 1999, the then PM Nawaz Sharif accused Jemima of smuggling. According to old news reports, Jemima sent 397 tiles to her mother in London. However, customs authorities seized the package in Pakistan. Upon inspection, the archaeological department declared that the tiles were “antiques”.

Jemima Goldsmith

Imran Khan accused the then government of trying to malign his wife in a fake case because he criticized Nawaz Sharif’s government.

“I realized there were parallels, marrying an older, politically powerful man and being used to undermine him,” Jemima further added.

Imran Khan accused the then government of trying to malign his wife in a fake case because he criticized Nawaz Sharif’s government. “I realized there were parallels, marrying an older, politically powerful man and being used to undermine him,” Jemima further added.

On another note, Jemima Khan also reflected on how young she was when she married PM Khan.

It is not a normal decision, aged 21, with all the freedoms and privileges that we grew up with, to essentially give those up, to go and live in extremely black and white culture and adopt a black and white way of life and doctrine, with a man who was twice my age and a born again Muslim,” she said.

“At that point in my life, I found some reassurance in the prescriptiveness of that culture, that religion, that man…It was seen as this great amorous adventure and I am not sure that was the whole story. I would say, in retrospect, that moral certainty might have been more of a driving factor…,” she continued.

Jemima with Imran Khan

In the interview, Jemima Goldsmith reflected on her time in Pakistan and the struggles she faced due to her inter-faith marriage to the premier. Jemima is currently busy with her two upcoming projects – What’s Love Got To Do With It and Impeachment which is about former US President Bill Clinton’s affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

While talking about producing the upcoming shows, she said, “The stories that I choose to explore are always ones that resonate with me on a personal level.”

Goldsmith is producing Impeachment with Ryan Murphy, a ten-part drama on Clinton-Lewinsky affair. Earlier in 2017 Goldsmith also produced a documentary on the scandal.

Goldsmith said, “Monica was really vulnerable because a famous actor had just said, ‘why did they let you in?’ I don’t think in England we have any real sense of the extent to which she was demonized. That was one of my big motivations for getting the documentary made and also this Ryan Murphy project.”

The journalist-turned-producer admitted she could relate to Lewinksy’s story, “During the interviews, she was describing the FBI sting, and I suddenly realized that the same year, in Pakistan, I’d had to leave the country because I’d also been threatened with jail on politically trumped-up charges. I’d been accused of smuggling antiques, one of the few non-bailable offences in Pakistan. I realized there were parallels, marrying an older, politically powerful man and being used to undermine him.”

Moreover, the British screenwriter also shared details about her second project titled What’s Love Got To Do With It, which will be based on the time she spent in Pakistan during marriage to Imran Khan. She also revealed it took 10 years to write script of the film.

Goldsmith then recalled how her views about arrange marriages changed, “When I went to Pakistan I probably had the same views as the rest of my friends about the concept of arranged marriage, which is that it is a mad, outdated idea. But I came back after ten years with a slightly different view, whereby I could see some merits to it. In a world where we are led entirely by the idea of romantic love, if we could inject some pragmatism into that, a little more objectivity, then we might find a middle ground somewhere between passion and pragmatism, and we might make better decisions.”

Later, Goldsmith turned into a matchmaker herself, “When I was in Pakistan I genuinely ended up arranging marriages. Quite often these children of friends of my ex-husband would say, ‘ok, we’ll have an arranged marriage, but can Jemima be involved’. That didn’t mean that the parents didn’t have ultimate sign-off, but I was part of the process, and I saw them play out. I don’t want to be Pollyannaish, because I know that forced marriage is a whole different thing. But when it’s what has come to be known as assisted marriage, I’ve seen it work very successfully.”

Goldsmith married Khan in 1995 when he was 42 and she was 21, speaking about her age difference and her inter-faith marriage, she stated, “It [marriage] is not a normal decision, aged 21, with all the freedoms and privileges that we grew up with, to essentially give those up, to go and live in an extremely black and white culture and adopt a black and white way of life and doctrine, with a man who was twice my age and a born again Muslim.”

Jemima asserted, “At that point in my life I found some reassurance in the prescriptiveness of that culture, that religion, that man. When my sister [India Jane Birley] was asked in an interview why I went there she said, very intelligently, ‘moral certitude.’ It was seen as this great amorous adventure and I am not sure that was the whole story. I would say, in retrospect, that moral certainty might have been more of a driving factor.”

The film producer shared how her marriage fell apart, “But after ten years, what had felt reassuring — deferring to other people and not having to come up with solutions myself — began to feel like a loss of autonomy. As you get older you realize that you have the capacity to find some of the answers in yourself.”

Goldsmith often finds herself stuck between Muslims and Jews debate, “I do feel like I have an ability to see things from both points of view in a way that possibly some of my contemporaries, both in Pakistan or here, don’t,” she said, adding, “I even feel like I am right in the middle of the Islamophobia and anti-Semitism debate because I’ve seen both at first hand. I’ve got half-Pakistani Muslim children and I was a young girl who was politically targeted because of my Jewish ethnicity. It’s an interesting perspective.”

Jemima concluded, “If I don’t write a book before I die, whether that is a memoir or a novel, then I will feel that I have failed.”