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August 13, 2000
Diana wanted to marry Hasnat, not Dodi: Imran Khan
Paran Balakrishnan in London
Former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan says he had been asked by Diana, Princess of Wales, to act as a go-between between her and heart surgeon Hasnat Khan only three months before her death.
In a television documentary to be broadcast on British television this week, Imran says conversations with Diana during a 1997 visit to Pakistan convinced him of her love for Hasnat and her wish to marry the doctor.
"She had decided he was the man she wanted to live with," Imran says.
Imran suggests that her romance with Dodi Fayed was a summer fling that may have been intended to make the surgeon jealous. "She had been involved with him (Hasnat) for two years and she had wanted to marry him. It was clear that she was very deeply in love with Dr Hasnat and I just don't think she could have got over it that quickly," Imran said.
Imran's disclosure will undermine claims that Diana planned to marry Dodi Fayed who died with her in a car crash in Paris. Dodi's father Mohammad Al-Fayed, who owns luxury store Harrod's, has alleged that Diana had agreed to marry Dodi. Soon after the fatal crash, he claimed that his son had bought the princess an engagement ring.
The programme says that when Diana and Dodi died in the August 1997 crash, Imran had already made plans to travel to London from Lahore intending to meet Hasnat and discuss the relationship.
"I had it in my mind that I was going to talk to him at least to find out the reason for his reluctance to wed Diana," he says in the documentary. Details of the programme were published in the Sunday Telegraph.
The documentary entitled Diana: Her Last Love says that even during her summer romance, Diana was in touch with Hasnat's family in Pakistan. She told them that the relationship with Dodi was not serious.
Hasnat is described in the documentary as shy, dignified and reserved. "These factors must have attracted her," says Imran.
The programme suggests that Hasnat did not wish to marry the princess because of the media attention that followed her every step and because his orthodox Muslim family found it impossible to accept a divorced Western woman.
Hasnat works with world-renowned surgeon Professor Dr Magdi Yacoub at the Royal Brompton Hospital in London. He has never talked publicly about his relationship with the princess.
Imran believed he was well-placed to speak to Hasnat as he understood the difficulties of a mixed marriage. "Maybe, I could speak to him because having married someone from outside my culture, if there was something that could be cleared up or some advice that could be given, then maybe I would be able to help," Imran said.
But before that could happen, "that tragic incident took place," he added.
Hasnat attended the funeral service for Diana sitting with his head bowed and wearing dark glasses.
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