Bad News Keeps Piling On for Imran Khan

Pakistan's former prime minister and his wife get 7 more years in jail, for an apparently illegal marriage
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 30, 2024 6:33 AM CST
Updated Feb 3, 2024 6:00 AM CST
Jailed Ex-Prime Minister Gets Another 10 Years
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan listens to a member of the media during a talk with reporters regarding the current political situation and the ongoing cases against him at his residence in Lahore, Pakistan, on Aug. 3, 2023.   (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary, File)
UPDATE Feb 3, 2024 6:00 AM CST

On Saturday, a Pakistani court convicted and sentenced former PM Imran Khan and his wife to seven years in prison on a charge that their 2018 marriage violated the law, officials and a defense lawyer said. The verdict follows another case in which Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, were sentenced to 14 years in prison on Wednesday for corruption, per the AP. It comes ahead of Feb. 8 parliamentary elections in which Khan has already been disqualified due to his graft convictions. The couple's lawyer said the verdict was announced by Judge Qudrat Ullah a day after the trial ended. Khan and his family insist the trial is politically motivated. The prosecution said Khan and Bibi violated the law of a woman waiting three months before marrying again; Bibi was previously married. It's Khan's fourth conviction since 2022, when he was ousted as PM. The sentences will be served concurrently.

Jan 30, 2024 6:33 AM CST

A Pakistani court convicted former Prime Minister Imran Khan of revealing official secrets on Tuesday and sentenced him to 10 years—the latest in a slew of legal cases that supporters say are meant to sideline the imprisoned former cricket star just days ahead of parliamentary elections. The Islamist politician, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in 2022, isn't on the ballot because he's already serving a three-year prison term—and more than 150 other cases are still pending against him, per the AP. He nonetheless remains a potent political force because of his grassroots following and anti-establishment rhetoric. However, Pakistan saw violent demonstrations after Khan's arrest last year, and authorities have cracked down on his supporters and party since then, making them wary of staging rallies.

The Feb. 8 elections come at a sensitive time in Pakistan, which is mired in an economic crisis that Khan's successor, Shehbaz Sharif, has struggled to manage. Sharif was only able to get a bailout from the International Monetary Fund by agreeing to a substantial increase in tariffs on gas and electricity that led to alarming price hikes on everyday goods and made his party unpopular. On Tuesday, Khan was convicted in what's popularly known as the cipher case, in which he was accused of exposing state secrets by waving a confidential document at a rally. The document hasn't been made public but is believed to be diplomatic correspondence between the Pakistani ambassador to Washington and the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad.

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Khan claimed the document was proof he was being threatened and that his ouster was a US conspiracy, allegedly executed by the military and the government in Pakistan. American and Pakistani officials have denied the claim. A special court at the prison in Rawalpindi where Khan is being held announced the verdict, said the chief spokesman for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI. A senior official in the party, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was accused of manipulating the contents of the diplomatic cable to gain political advantage, was also convicted and received a 10-year sentence. Khan has maintained his innocence, saying he didn't disclose the exact contents of the cable. His party dismissed the trial as a sham, and his legal team plans to appeal the conviction before the Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. (More Imran Khan stories.)

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