A Pakistani court has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife to seven years in jail, declaring their marriage invalid due to religious reasons.
Khan, already incarcerated for corruption, faced another blow when the court deemed his 2018 marriage to Bushra Bibi, a spiritual healer, as un-Islamic and illegal.
The ruling comes amid a series of legal woes for the 71-year-old politician, who claims the charges against him are politically motivated. Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was ousted from his position as prime minister in 2022.
The court, located within the Adiala Jail where Khan is serving previous sentences, acted on a complaint filed by Bibi’s ex-husband, alleging fraud in her marriage to Khan.
According to Muslim family law, women are barred from remarrying for a specified period after divorce or the death of their spouse. The court found Bibi had remarried before the mandated waiting period following her divorce, hence deeming her marriage to Khan invalid.
In addition to the seven-year prison term, the court levied a fine of 500,000 rupees on Khan and Bibi.
Their union in 2018, months before Khan’s election as prime minister, marked his third marriage. Bibi, believed to be in her 40s and known for her veiled public appearances, followed Khan’s previous marriages to Jemima Goldsmith in 1995 and Reham Khan in 2015.
Khan, known for his playboy image during his cricketing years, transitioned to a more conventional married life before facing a string of legal and political challenges.
Since his arrest in August, Khan has faced multiple convictions, with the latest sentencing being his third within a week. Earlier, he received a 10-year jail term for leaking classified documents.
The recent case revolved around allegations of Khan and his wife profiting from state gifts received during his tenure, including jewelry from the Saudi Crown Prince. Both were handed 14-year prison sentences, with Bibi allowed to serve hers under house arrest.
Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), denounced the legal proceedings as unjust, labeling them as “kangaroo courts.”
Critics have raised concerns about the fairness of the upcoming elections, as Khan and his party face marginalization, with many leaders either imprisoned or defecting. The authorities deny any crackdown, but the detention of thousands of PTI supporters following protests during Khan’s arrest has raised eyebrows.
Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif, a three-time former prime minister who was jailed for corruption ahead of the 2018 election, is tipped to win, with analysts suggesting he enjoys favor from Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.