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Imran Khan has spoken of his pain after his wife Reham confirmed their divorce earlier today as reported by local news agencies and media.

News of their sensational separation, just ten months after their marriage in January this year, emerged on the eve of Punjab’s Local body elections and caused dismay among his PTI party’s supporters.

The disclosure was initially met with disbelief and suggestions that it may have been pre-election mischief. But the statement was quickly confirmed by Reham Khan in a statement on the social media site twitter. “We have decided to part ways and file for divorce,” she said.

There were unconfirmed reports that disagreements within the Khan family, in particular between Reham and Imran Khan’s sisters had been a factor in their discord.

PTI spokesman Naeemul Haq said the divorce was mutually agreed by both 63-year-old Imran and 42-year-old Reha and pleaded with the media to allow the family their privacy and not judge them. “The divorce is a personal matter and should not be judged politically. It was mutually decided between Imran and Reham,” he said.

They married in a simple ceremony at Imran Khan’s residence at Bani Gala, Islamabad but rumours of a rift have been circulating for several weeks.

Following confirmation of their divorce by both the PTI spokesman and Reham Khan, Imran issued his own statement speaking of his pain at their separation and pleading for privacy. “This is a painful time for me and Reham and our families. I would request everyone to respect our privacy.”

“I have the greatest respect for Reham’s moral character and her passion to work for and help the underprivileged….reports and speculation about financial settlements are absolutely false and shameful,” he added.

His comment followed media claims that they had agreed a divorce settklement in which Reham would receive Rs180 million – around $1.8 million – along with diamond and gold jewellery.

Imran Khan’s sisters issued a joint statement reinforcing his call for privacy in the days ahead. “Please don’t interfere in our personal family matters, please respect our privacy,” they said.

This is a painful time for me, Reham, and our families. I would request everyone to respect our privacy. I have the…

Posted by Imran Khan (official) on Friday, October 30, 2015

Tensions between Imran and Reham had been going on for many months. She had sought an active role in politics whereas PTI leaders did not view it as good for the party. They did not want the stigma of a family running the affairs of PTI as they criticised the PML-N and PPP for it. Imran had announced that she would not play any pivotal role in the party and barred her to take part in political activities.

Yesterday Imran’s visit to his sister Dr Uzma residence in Lahore was seen as an indication that something had happened in the family. Dr Uzma was reported to be angry at Imran for not taking her into confidence before the marriage. Earlier both the brother and sister were not on speaking terms. Yesterday Imran took two hours from his hectic election campaign schedule to visit her.

He had previously strongly denied any rumours of a rift in the relationship. The news of his divorce one day before the important local bodies election in Punjab may be disturbing news for PTI workers and voters and may have an impact on the PTI’s vote.

It was unclear today whether the couple had agreed their separation some time before Reham travelled to Britain to appear at a PTI conference in Birmingham. There were also questions over why the party confirmed the divorce on the eve of the crucial local bodies election – a development which could affect the party’s showing in the polls.