Pakistan’s Imran Khan, wife now get 7 years jail for marriage law violation

Verdict comes less than a week before national elections and follows another case in which the couple were sentenced to 14 years.

Imran Khan and wife
Imran Khan, right, and Bushra Bibi talk to the reporters at the Lahore High Court in Lahore [File: K M Chaudary/AP]

Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in Pakistan has now jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi for seven years, ruling their 2018 marriage violated the Islamic law.

The civil court, set up inside the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi city where Khan is imprisoned, delivered the sentence on Saturday in the presence of the couple. It also slapped a fine of a million rupees ($3,560) on them.

The case against the couple was filed last year by Bibi’s former husband Khawar Maneka, who alleged that his divorced wife did not observe the necessary three-month break required under Islamic law before remarrying Khan.

Maneka claims he divorced his wife in November 2017. Khan announced his third marriage with Bibi in February 2018, months before he became the prime minister.

It is Khan’s third conviction this week – and a second for his wife – in advance of general elections on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Khan, along with his close aide Shah Mehmood Qureshi, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for leaking a confidential cable – called cypher – sent by a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

Khan claimed the document contained evidence that the Pakistani military, in collusion with his political opponents and US officials, conspired to have him removed from power in April 2022. Washington and the Pakistani army have denied the charge.

A day later, Khan and Bibi were sentenced to a 14-year imprisonment and fined 1.5 billion rupees ($5.3m) in a case related to the illegal sale of gifts they received when Khan was the prime minister.

Bibi has been put under arrest at Khan’s Islamabad residence.

Syed Zulfiqar Bukhari, an official belonging to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told Al Jazeera the haste with which the judgments against Khan were passed made a “mockery of the law”.

“The way these trials are being conducted leaves a huge question mark on the February 8 elections. This is a test case for Pakistan’s higher judiciary,” he said, calling the marriage case “fake” and questioning the judiciary for taking it up.

“In a way, it’s a victory for Imran Khan. It proves that every other charge on him is also false, hence such ridiculous cases and sentences are being slapped on him. It also shows that while other countries are concentrating on economic progress, this is the level that we are operating at here,” he added.

PTI President Gohar Ali Khan said the marriage law trial was “shameful” and the verdict was “expected”. He said the party will appeal the sentencing in a higher court.

The series of convictions against Khan have cast a long shadow on the February 8 elections, which Khan is barred from contesting. The vote is also being held amid a severe crackdown on the PTI, which has also been barred from using its election symbol, forcing its candidates to contest as independents.

Yet, most surveys continue to show Khan as the country’s most popular leader.

Source: Al Jazeera