Pakistan court convicts former PM Khan and wife of unlawful marriage News
Pakistan court convicts former PM Khan and wife of unlawful marriage

A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced former prime minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, to seven years in prison for violating a marriage law when they wed in 2018, officials and a lawyer for the couple said. 

The prosecution asserted Khan and his wife violated Islamic law, which says that a woman must wait three months before re-marrying. This is known as the ‘Iddah’ period and is a requirement under Islamic family law upheld by Pakistan. The former First Spouse was previously married, and her ex-husband Khawar Maneka claimed they divorced in November 2017, less than three months before Bibi married Khan in January 2018. Bibi, however, has said they divorced in August 2017. Both Khan and Bibi have denied they violated the law, calling the charges “baseless” and “politically motivated,” ahead of the February 8 parliamentary elections in Pakistan, from which Khan has already been disqualified owing to legal convictions. 

The verdict was announced by Judge Qudrat Ullah a day after the trial was concluded. The trial took place at the Adiala jail, where Khan is currently incarcerated on unrelated charges. Additionally, the couple were both fined 500,000 Rupees (approximately $1,800) each. 

The verdict, as read in court, asserted that the complainant “has been able to prove that the respondents have gone through an unlawful marriage ceremony…with dishonest and fraudulent intention.”

The ruling is the latest in a series of legal cases the former prime minister is embroiled in. Earlier this week, Khan and his wife were sentenced to 14 years in prison on charges of corruption. The day before, Khan was sentenced to ten years for revealing state secrets. 

Khan is allegedly the target of more than 150 legal cases, with charges ranging from inciting violence for the nationwide riots sparked by his arrest in May 2023, to additional allegations of corruption. 

The former prime minister has insisted that the numerous cases against him are politically motivated and part of a larger smear campaign orchestrated by the South-Asian country’s incumbent military leadership and the US to punish him for advocating for Pakistani foreign policy free from American influence. Both the US and Pakistan have rejected these claims. 

Khan wrote to his followers on X (formerly Twitter), saying:

The iddat case has been expedited only because they want to create a narrative against my dream of establishing Pakistan on the principles of Riasat-e Madinah. Therefore, they are concluding it in haste without an iota of fairness in the trial just to announce me guilty…Pakistanis, you must know that all of these cases have no legal basis; they are part of an ongoing political circus in the country for the past 22 months. The hasty manner in which all these cases are being concluded is for only one purpose which is the demoralise the voters, especially the youth.

The verdict Saturday marks Khan’s fourth conviction in under two years since the former prime minister was ousted from power in 2022. Currently, his sentences total 34 years, and he is expected to serve these concurrently.