Rawalpindi: In another major setback for former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, he and his wife Bushra Bibi were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment by a trial court in Rawalpindi’s Adiala jail in their ‘un-Islamic’ marriage case on Saturday, marking the third conviction this week for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder this week and his wife’s second. The judge issued the court’s verdict in the case pertaining to the plea filed by Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband Khawar Maneka.
Earlier on Wednesday, an accountability court sentenced the former prime minister and his wife, Bibi, to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment in a corruption case. In the Toshakhana corruption case, the jailed PTI founder was accused of retaining expensive state gifts they received during his tenure as Pakistan’s premier. The couple is also barred from holding any public office for ten years and slapped with a fine of Rs 787 million each.
Maneka filed a plea in November last year seeking legal action against Imran for marrying his present wife while she was reportedly on iddat period. The iddat period (three months) is a waiting period that a Muslim woman must observe on account of the death of her husband or the dissolution of the marriage. Maneka, in his petition, had termed Bushra and Khan’s nikkah “fraudulent” contending that the marriage was solemnised during her iddat — following her divorce from him. “That above said nikah and the marriage ceremony was neither legal nor Islamic as it was solemnised without observing iddah period,” Geo News quoted his petition.
Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband also accused the former PM of ruining his entire life while “stigmatising the complainant and his family just to achieve his unethical and immoral objects through intrusion in the complainant’s peaceful marital life”.
During the hearing on Wednesday, PTI party lawyer Salman Akram Raja said that the case was only aimed at humiliating the petitioners, highlighting that the complaint against Khan’s marriage was filed five years and 11 months after the nikkah in November 2023. The counsel for Maneka told the court that witnesses had testified in the trial court that Bibi was in another marriage with Imran at the time of their marriage ceremony.
The trial court indicted Khan and Bibi in the marriage case last month. Bibi, 49, hails from a family of landowners in Punjab. Her first marriage, which lasted about 30 years, was to Maneka, who is from a politically influential Punjab family.
Backchannel contacts with Pakistan Army
According to Dawn, Imran claimed during a recess in the hearing, about backchannel contacts with the powerful military establishment through Bushra Bibi, but disclosed that he had refused a proposed ‘deal’. He claimed someone from the establishment indirectly approached his wife and asked her to convince Imran to stand down for three years and behave nicely, and then he would be given an open field based on ‘good conduct’.
“I said that I will not step back from my demand of a democratic system at any cost. I held several meetings with former army chief retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to hold of free and fair elections. I will not accept any other deal.,” Imran added.
The PTI founder also alleged that former Army Chief General Bajwa started conspiring against his government from the very beginning of the PTI’s regime. He also claimed that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Asif was a close friend of Bajwa’s father-in-law.
“General Bajwa, in order to get a second extension, connived with Shehbaz Sharif. They could have toppled the PTI regime much earlier, but they had to delay the regime change plan because of the coronavirus outbreak,” he claimed
Imran Khan’s troubles refuse to end
During the hearing, the former PM’s counsel questioned why Bushra Bibi’s ex-husband remained silent for four years and said he filed the complaint after he was arrested in a corruption case and was detained for more than a month.
Maneka claimed that he learned about the marriage of his ex-wife with Khan through the newspaper, and then a story by journalist Umar Cheema was published claiming that the Nikkah was solemnised during the Iddat period.
PTI’s prospects in the upcoming elections experienced severe problems amid a military-backed crackdown and without an electoral symbol. Its founder Imran Khan, along with his wife Bushra Bibi, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in the Toshakhana corruption reference, a day after the ex-PM and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi was handed a 10-year sentence in the cipher case for allegedly leaking state secrets.
With his nomination papers denied, Imran is virtually out of the electoral race, a situation similar to what Nawaz Sharif faced in 2018. Many candidates who are contesting as independents are being backed by PTI in the elections. The party alleges the military is attempting to keep it out of the election race, a charge the army denies.