He can get no satisfaction

He can get no satisfaction
Mr Gulzar Khan, 54, says that he satisfies his “natural desires lawfully by marriage’’.

Mr Gulzar Khan's dream of taking a fourth wife has been shattered.

The father of 36 is one of hundreds of thousands of people who have fled the North Waziristan tribal area since the Pakistan army moved in to clear the bases of the Taleban and other militants.

Mr Khan told AFP that he had to leave the 35-room house he shared in the North Waziristan village of Shawa with around 100 family members, including wives, children and grandchildren.

The 54-year-old tribesman said that paying to transport his brood used up the cash he had set aside for his fourth marriage.

Islamic law permits men to take up to four wives and in Pakistan's north-west, large families are the norm.

But after they had given birth to a dozen children each, Mr Khan's wives told him enough was enough.

"They do not allow me to go near them, but I have desires I want to fulfil."

Mr Khan was 17 when he married his 14-year-old cousin. They had eight daughters and four sons. After eight years, he got married again, to a 17-year-old.

His third wedding came when he married his brother's widow after his brother was killed in a dispute just a month after tying the knot himself.

Mr Khan lives in a 17-room house in Bannu, where the bulk of people displaced by the military operation have taken refuge.

NO ADULTERY, NO SIN

"I do not indulge in adultery and sinful acts, so I satisfy my natural desires lawfully by marriage," said Mr Khan, who worked as a taxi driver in Dubai from 1976 to 1992.

He said there were no disputes between his three wives, but he admitted he struggled to remember who was whose mother.

"I can tell you that he or she is my child, but I cannot tell with all of them who is his or her mother," he said.

Pakistan's 180 million-strong population is growing by more than two per cent a year, according to the United Nations Population Fund, which said in late 2012 that a third of Pakistanis have no access to birth control.

Some observers have warned that unless more is done to slow the growth, the country's natural resources will not be enough to support the population.

But Mr Khan's 14-year-old son Ghufran has no such fears.

"God willing, I will also have several marriages and produce even more kids than my father," he said.


This article was first published on July 18, 2014.
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