Imran Khan: Pakistan ex-PM and wife Bushra Bibi jailed for illegal marriage

Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi sign surety bonds for bail in July 2023
Image caption,Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi posted bail last July

By Henri Astier

BBC News

A Pakistani court has jailed Imran Khan and his wife for seven years after voiding their marriage, in the latest sentence against the ex-prime minister.

The court ruled that Khan’s 2018 marriage with Bushra Bibi, a faith healer, was un-Islamic and illegal.

He is already in jail for corruption. Last Wednesday, a week before a general election, the pair were convicted of profiting from state gifts.

Khan, 71, has said the numerous cases against him are politically motivated.

Pakistan’s former cricket captain-turned-politician was ousted as prime minister in 2022.

A court was set up inside the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where Khan is serving his previous sentences, for the latest case.

The complaint was filed by Bibi’s ex-husband, who said her marriage with Khan had been fraudulent.

Under Muslim family law, women are prohibited from remarrying for a few months after their husband dies or they are divorced. The court found that Bibi had remarried before the completion of the stipulated time following her divorce.

As well as the seven-year jail sentence, the court imposed a fine of 500,000 rupees ($1,800; £1,420) on Khan and Bibi.

The couple married in 2018, months before Khan was elected prime minister. Bibi, a spiritual healer believed to be in her 40s and always wears a veil in public, is Khan’s third wife.

Khan had a playboy reputation in his cricketing years before he settled down to a society marriage with British socialite Jemima Goldsmith in 1995. The marriage lasted nine years and produced two sons.

A second marriage in 2015, to journalist and former BBC weather presenter Reham Khan, lasted less than a year.

The former PM has been detained since his arrest last August.

Saturday’s prison sentence is Khan’s third in less than a week. On Tuesday, he was jailed for 10 years for leaking classified documents.

Wednesday’s court case centred on accusations that he and his wife had sold or kept state gifts received in office, including jewellery from the Saudi Crown Prince.

Both were given 14-year sentences in that case. The court ruled that Bushra Bibi was allowed to serve hers under house arrest.

Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party has said he was tried by “kangaroo courts”.

Even before the latest sentences were handed down, many were questioning the credibility of next week’s election as Khan and his party have been sidelined.

The authorities deny carrying out a crackdown, but many of PTI leaders are behind bars or have defected.

Thousands of the party’s supporters were rounded up after protests – at times violent – when Khan was taken into custody last year.

The man tipped to win is three-time former PM Nawaz Sharif.

He was jailed for corruption ahead of the 2018 election that Imran Khan won. Many analysts say he is now favoured by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.

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