On June 8, 2012, seasoned actor Atiqa Odho tied the knot with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founding member and architect Samar Ali Khan, at a small gathering in Karachi.
Her marriage to Khan has raised speculation about the couple’s respective political leanings, since Odho is known to be aligned with General (retd) Pervez Musharraf’s All Pakistan Muslim League (APML). But in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune, Odho and Khan talk about their relationship and feelings towards their respective parties.
As we sat in a dimly lit room at Odho’s Clifton residence, I realised how beautiful the actor is in person. She entered wearing a copper coloured shalwar kameez; with light makeup and neatly painted nails, she was every bit as dazzling as one can imagine.
After a warm, jovial greeting, she sat by her desktop computer and related how it all happened. “This is a love match,” said the actor animatedly. “Love can happen at any age. I am happy to be married again. I love being at home and love having a family.”
This is Odho’s third marriage and she makes no qualms about it, “The third time around, a woman would be nervous,” she said frankly. “But I feel better equipped, older and more mature. I have seen more of life and can remember events as life’s experiences.”
Odho is confident about her marriage, and said that she believes in the institution of marriage more now than she ever has before. “One should not blame or base their failed relationships on the notion that marriage is a failed entity. How do we know till we try?”
As our conversation progressed, more than anything, Odho spoke about the importance of family. “When you have children, you cannot automatically distance yourself from your ex-husband’s family. The connection remains,” she said. “As a mother, it becomes my responsibility to minimise damage to my young children.”
At this point in our converstation, in walked Khan, dressed in a casual shirt and dark pants. The architect is known in his social circle as the man who charms the crowd with the mantra of joining the PTI and following Imran Khan. But as he sat across the room from Odho and the spotlight shifted from her to him, he looked subdued; concerned about the questions that might come his way. I ask the question that is making the rounds: has Odho succumbed to the PTI’s magnetism? His reply was short: “She does her thing and I do my stuff,” laughing off the question, but looking more relaxed.
“The circle I am from lives in a small bubble. But she and I are very different from these people,” he said, glancing at his better half. “I have found that she is a person who cares about human beings. It upsets her to see suffering and poverty!”
Odho joined the conversation, “He is one of the few people I have met who believes in community-building; an individual who is concerned about the country and its people,” she said warmly. “We are two people who have a deep connection with this country and we are certainly not letting that go.”
She described Khan as “an easy-going, happy-go-lucky person”, and added with a smile, “I am more of a recluse, he is more socially active!”
“I will help Samar in his goals. It took him 16 years with a lot of effort and hard work to be a part of this change. It must have been an exhausting task, telling people to change,” she added.
It is clear that the couple shares the same sentiments when it comes to family unity. “I am obsessed with my children,” said Khan. “I am certainly not the kind of father who will instill a fear in my children that I will abandon them after a relationship has broken down,” he said.
She added: “It says a lot about your character if you don’t care about your family.” She continued, “I will be more of a friend to his children, for I want to develop a friendship with them. They have a very good mother. I have strong maternal instincts but I want us to be friends,” adding that most of her conversations with Khan are about their children. “Samar has four and I have three of my own, so I am blessed to have a big brood.”
As far as Khan sees it, any relationship has to have a strong partnership based on giving; only then will there be a win-win arrangement. “In a partnership, both should feel that they are winning. Only then will it work.”
At the end, Odho talked about how the couple’s friends and family reacted to the news of their marriage. “Even before we went public with the announcement, I was amazed to know how much people wanted to know about us,” said Odho, with an amused look on her face. “From friends to family, all were happy for us. People came up to me and said, ‘It’s a good thing that this is happening’.”
“You see, we are not in our 20s,” she said, in a matter-of-fact tone. “We are on a certain level of maturity as we deal with this new beginning. In our marriage nothing will be a forced choice – we are too adult for things like that! We will just pray, work hard and do our very best.”
We wish the newlyweds a happily married life!
The political connection
“I am disappointed in Musharraf,” said Odho flatly, when asked about her alliance with the APML. “Some people have lost respect for him. He should come back to the country and face the music.”
While she said that she has not resigned from her position in the APML, she added that she has “completely taken a backseat in the party”.
“He has made mistakes, individuals do that, but he is an honourable man, a decent person,” she said, referring to Musharraf “If there is one person who can lead the country, I still believe it’s him. For now, I am very heart-broken.”