Islamabad: Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi have been convicted and sentenced to seven years in jail over a marriage law violation. The couple married in 2018, months before Khan was elected prime minister. Bibi, a spiritual healer believed to be in her 40s and always wears a veil in public, is Khan’s third wife.
Bibi’s ex-husband filed the case, Khawar Farid Maneka, who accused them of marrying without completing the Iddat — a compulsory waiting period in Islam after divorce — and committing adultery. According to Shariat in Islam, a Muslim woman is prohibited from remarrying for some time after the death of her husband or divorce. The Iddat period is of four months and 10 days, during which the woman must cover herself from other men.
Maneka claimed that he divorced Bibi in November 2017, and she married Khan in February 2018, without observing the Iddat period. He also alleged that Khan and Bibi had an affair before their marriage and that Khan met Bibi for the first time under the pretext of becoming her follower.
A local court in Pakistan declared Khan and Bibi’s marriage as un-Islamic and illegal, and sentenced them to seven years each in jail. The court also imposed a fine of 500,000 rupees ($1,800; £1,420) on each of them. The verdict was announced on Saturday, February 3, 2024, in the Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, where Khan is serving his previous sentences for corruption and leaking classified documents. The case hearing lasted for about 14 hours inside the jail premises a day earlier.
Khan and Bibi denied the charges and said the case was politically motivated to humiliate and disgrace them. Khan said this was the first instance in history where a case related to Iddat was initiated. He also said that he had proof of Bibi’s divorce from Maneka and that he married her with her consent and the blessings of her family.
Khan’s supporters and party members condemned the verdict and said it blatantly violated human rights and personal freedom. They also accused the judiciary of being biased and influenced by the military, which has long been accused of meddling in politics. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has said he was tried by “kangaroo courts” and that the numerous cases against him are aimed at sidelining him from the upcoming general election on February 8, 2024, which he is barred from contesting. Khan was ousted as prime minister in 2022 after a constitutional vote of no confidence against him.