Pakistan court jails Imran Khan and wife Bushra for seven years over unlawful marriage

Conviction is third after sentence of 10 years for leaking state secrets and 14 years for illegally selling state gifts

Why are Imran Khan and his wife sentenced to 14 years in prison?

Why are Imran Khan and his wife sentenced to 14 years in prison?
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A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi to seven years in jail, saying their marriage six years ago breached Islamic law.

The couple has been accused of breaking the Islamic practice of observing a waiting period of four months before remarrying.

Khan and his wife, who denied any wrongdoing, were also each fined 500,000 rupees ($1,800).

The ruling was the third against Khan this week and came ahead of the national elections. He is barred from contesting when voting starts on February 8.

Khan has already been sentenced to 10 years for leaking state secrets and 14 years along with his wife for illegally selling state gifts.

While he is expected to appeal all three cases, it was not immediately clear if the sentences will run concurrently.

The couple was present in the courtroom when the verdict was announced, Gahar Ali Khan, Khan’s lawyer and party’s interim chief, told reporters.

“This is to scandalise them before elections,” lawyer Mr Khan said, adding that they will challenge the verdict in a higher court.

Khan’s multiple convictions are seen by his party and supporters as punishment for his rhetoric against Pakistan’s military leadership, which has ruled the country for half of its 76-year history.

During his final months in power, Khan had broadened his fight with opponents to include the military.

Speaking to The National, Syed Sikandar Shah, one of Khan’s lawyers, emphasised on the importance of a woman’s statement under Islamic law when declaring the completion of her “Iddah” before remarrying.

In Islam, Iddah is the period a woman must observe after the death of her husband or after a divorce, during which she may not marry another man.

“When Bushra Bibi says she has completed her Iddah, why was her statement not given importance?,” Mr Shah asked.

In contrast, Haji Kifayat, an official at the PML-N Lawyers Forum and an advocate, argued that the judgment aligned with the law.

“Imran Khan first married Bushra Bibi during the Iddah period, and later, when they realised their mistake, they again solemnised the marriage. Hence, their first nikah was unlawful.”

Spiritual healer

Bibi, Khan’s third wife, was a spiritual healer who was previously married to a man who claimed that they divorced in November 2017, less than three months before she married Khan.

Bibi has said they divorced in August 2017.

She and Khan, who had been married twice before, denied they breached the three-month waiting period – a requirement of Islamic law and upheld by Pakistan.

The ruling was condemned by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

Khan is currently serving multiple prison terms at Adiala prison in Rawalpindi, where his trials were held because of security concerns.

He is embroiled in more than 150 legal cases, including inciting people to violence after his arrest in May 2023.

Imran Khan's supporters take to the streets after he is moved to high-security jail

Imran Khan's supporters take to the streets after he is moved to high-security jail

During nationwide riots in May, Khan’s supporters attacked the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, stormed an airbase in Mianwali in the eastern Punjab province and torched a building housing state-run Radio Pakistan in the north-west.

The violence subsided only when Khan was released at the time by the Supreme Court.

Khan and Bibi also face another graft case, allegedly involving giving undue benefits to a property tycoon in return for establishing an Islamic university.

With agencies and additional reporting by Muhammad Shahid in Peshawar

Updated: February 04, 2024, 11:18 AM