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Pakistan ex-PM and wife sentenced to 7 years for unlawful marriage

AT News

KABUL – In a significant legal blow, former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife, Bushra Khan, have been handed a seven-year prison sentence and fined for violating marriage laws, according to their political party. This marks the third ruling against Khan this week, just days before the national elections, from which he is now disqualified.

The court in Rawalpindi found Khan guilty not only for his marriage but also sentenced him to 10 years for leaking state secrets and 14 years, alongside his wife, for the illegal sale of state gifts. Khan, 71, plans to appeal all three cases, challenging what his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), describes as a “mockery of the law” with rushed hearings and a lack of due process.

Amid concerns about the fairness of these trials, PTI questions the impact on the upcoming February 8th elections, emphasizing this as a test case for Pakistan’s higher judiciary. The couple, fined 500,000 rupees each, will serve their sentences separately – Khan in Rawalpindi and his wife at their Islamabad mansion.

The legal saga revolves around allegations that Bushra Khan did not observe the mandated waiting period, “Iddat,” after divorcing her previous husband before marrying Imran Khan. Their secretive “Nikkah” ceremony in January 2018, months before Khan became prime minister, sparked controversy over the timing of their union.

Despite initial denials, PTI confirmed the marriage later. Both Khan and his wife deny any wrongdoing, with Khan’s media advisor dismissing the case as another “fake case” lacking credible evidence.

The criminal complaint originated from Bushra’s ex-husband, Khawar Maneka, who was married to her for about 30 years. Imran Khan has often referred to Bushra as his spiritual leader, emphasizing her devotion to Sufism. The couple’s connection has been shrouded in mystery, but sources suggest Khan was drawn to her spirituality.

Imran Khan, a former cricket superstar, has faced a series of legal battles since his ousting in a 2022 parliamentary vote of no-confidence. He alleges a military-backed crackdown on his party, claiming political interference and arrests targeting supporters and key aides. The military denies these allegations.

As Khan and PTI gear up for legal challenges and appeals, the political landscape in Pakistan remains tense, with implications for the upcoming elections and the broader narrative of power and accountability in the country.

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