A Pakistani court has sentenced former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, to seven years in prison after declaring their 2018 marriage illegal and un-Islamic. This is the latest in a series of sentences against Khan, who is already serving time for corruption. The couple was also convicted of profiting from state gifts. Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in 2022, claims that the numerous cases against him are politically motivated.
The complaint against Khan and Bibi was filed by Bibi’s ex-husband, who claimed their marriage was fraudulent. According to Muslim family law, women are not allowed to remarry for several months after a divorce or the death of a husband. The court found that Bibi had remarried before the completion of this period.
In addition to the prison sentence, the court also fined Khan and Bibi 500,000 rupees ($1,800; £1,420). The couple married in 2018, just months before Khan was elected prime minister. This is Khan’s third marriage; his first was to British socialite Jemima Goldsmith and his second to journalist Reham Khan.
Khan has been detained since his arrest last August. He received two additional sentences last week: a 10-year sentence for leaking classified documents and a 14-year sentence for selling or keeping state gifts received during his time in office. The court allowed Bibi to serve her sentence under house arrest.
Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has criticized the trials as unfair. Many have questioned the credibility of the upcoming election as Khan and his party have been marginalized. Despite denials from the authorities, many PTI leaders are either in jail or have defected.
The frontrunner in the upcoming election is three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was also jailed for corruption before the 2018 election won by Khan. Many believe Sharif is now favored by Pakistan’s powerful military establishment.