Islamabad: In a shocking turn of events, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, have been handed a seven-year prison sentence by a district court. The court ruled that their 2018 marriage violated the law, marking the third sentence for Khan and the second for Bibi within the same week.
The District court order declared both respondents guilty of “a marriage ceremony fraudulently gone through without lawful marriage.” The case was brought forward by Bibi’s former husband, Khawar Farid Maneka, nearly six years after their divorce. Maneka accused Khan and Bibi of marrying without completing the Iddat, a mandatory waiting period in Islam after divorce, and engaging in adultery.
This conviction was delivered by a district court in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, where Imran Khan has been held since August on various charges. Due to security concerns, the proceedings took place within the confines of the prison.
Imran Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), swiftly condemned the verdict, denouncing it as “a mockery of the law.” PTI spokesperson Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, claiming to have witnessed the marriage ceremony in 2018, called the judgment “a victory for Imran Khan” and dismissed the charges as baseless.
This recent legal setback compounds Khan’s already challenging situation. Earlier this week, he and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi were reportedly sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets. The following day, PTI announced that Imran Khan and his wife faced a 14-year prison term for corruption related to the unlawful sale of state gifts during his tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022.
The unclear status of whether these sentences will be served consecutively or concurrently adds to the complexity of the legal landscape surrounding the former prime minister. Furthermore, with Pakistan’s General Election just around the corner, Khan is barred from contesting and holding office for a decade, according to PTI.
Imran Khan, once a celebrated cricket star turned politician who championed an anti-corruption agenda, faced political turmoil and was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022. The upcoming election, viewed by many analysts as one of the least credible in Pakistan’s history, has been overshadowed by the military’s crackdown on Khan and his associates. The unfolding legal drama adds a layer of uncertainty to the political landscape as the country approaches a critical electoral juncture.