Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi Sentenced: Pakistan’s Ex-PM Faces Legal Trouble for illegal marriage

In a stunning turn of events, a Pakistani court has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, to seven years in jail, declaring their 2018 marriage un-Islamic and illegal. This latest verdict adds to the mounting legal troubles for the 71-year-old leader, who is already serving time for corruption charges.

Background

The court, situated within the confines of Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, Pakistan where Khan is currently incarcerated, ruled against the couple, alleging that their union violated Muslim family law. This development comes on the heels of another conviction just a week before a general election, where the duo was found guilty of profiting from state gifts. Khan vehemently denies any wrongdoing, asserting that the charges are politically motivated.

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Imran Khan, once Pakistan’s cricket sensation turned politician, faced a controversial downfall in 2022 when he was ousted as the prime minister. Known for his playboy reputation during his cricketing years, Khan eventually embraced a more conventional lifestyle, marrying British socialite Jemima Goldsmith in 1995. However, the marriage lasted only nine years. In 2015, Khan entered into a brief union with journalist Reham Khan, which also ended in divorce after less than a year. In 2018, he tied the knot with Bushra Bibi, a spiritual healer in her 40s who always appeared in public wearing a veil.

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The Legal Battle

The recent legal saga unfolded when Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband filed a complaint, alleging that her marriage with Khan was fraudulent. According to Muslim family law, women are prohibited from remarrying for a specific period after a divorce or the death of their spouse. The court found that Bibi had remarried before the completion of the mandated waiting period. This violation led to the court declaring their marriage un-Islamic and illegal, resulting in a seven-year jail term for both Khan and Bibi.

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Apart from the current case, Khan is already serving time for leaking classified documents, a conviction that came just days before the marriage-related sentencing. The leaked documents case resulted in a 10-year jail term for Khan. Additionally, the couple was convicted of selling or retaining state gifts received during Khan’s tenure as prime minister, including jewelry from the Saudi Crown Prince. This offense led to 14-year sentences for both, with Bibi being allowed to serve hers under house arrest. The consecutive prison sentences have raised questions about the credibility of the upcoming general election, as Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), claim to be targeted by what they label as “kangaroo courts.”

PTI’s Perspective

Imran Khan’s PTI party has consistently maintained that the legal proceedings against their leader are politically motivated. They argue that Khan has been tried by biased courts, undermining the fairness of the judicial system. The party’s leaders and supporters have faced crackdowns, with many either behind bars or defecting. Thousands of PTI supporters were rounded up after protests, some turning violent, following Khan’s arrest in the previous year. Despite the party’s claims of persecution, the authorities deny any crackdown, further fueling the political turmoil in the country.

Nawaz Sharif’s Resurgence in Pakistan

With Imran Khan sidelined due to his incarceration and legal battles, the political landscape in Pakistan has shifted. The man predicted to benefit from this power vacuum is three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif, who was imprisoned for corruption ahead of the 2018 election, a contest won by Khan, has regained favor, according to many analysts. Speculations suggest that Pakistan’s powerful military establishment now favors Sharif, adding another layer of complexity to the country’s political dynamics.

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