Pakistan Court Upholds Imran Khan’s Conviction in Wedding Case

(Bloomberg) -- A Pakistani court upheld the last of Imran Khan’s jail sentences, dealing a blow to the former prime minister who has been in prison for about nine months and faces dozens of other court cases.

Most Read from Bloomberg

A sessions court judge upheld a seven-year jail sentence for Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in an unlawful marriage case, according to his lawyer Shoaib Shaheen. “We have the option to challenge the order in a higher court,” he said by phone.

The couple were sent to prison for violating an Islamic law that requires women who have divorced to complete a waiting period before they can remarry.

The decision is a major set back for Khan who had three other convictions suspended by the courts. The 71-year-old politician has been in jail since August.

Khan was the first Pakistani prime minister ousted from power through a parliamentary no-confidence vote more than two years ago after his relationship with the powerful military turned sour. He has said the legal cases are politically motivated and designed to prevent him from staging a comeback — an allegation Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the military leadership have denied.

Ahead of Thursday’s decision, Rana Sanaullah, the prime minister’s adviser on political affairs said the government would block Khan’s release as he could cause more disturbance. “The government’s position will be to keep him behind bars as long as possible,” Sanaullah told Geo TV on Wednesday.

Khan-backed candidates won the most parliamentary seats in February after an election marred by violence and allegations of rigging. But they fell short of a majority and Khan’s rivals moved quickly to form government in what political analysts said was in part due to support from the military.

The generals have ruled directly or behind the scenes for much of Pakistan’s history. The military plays a major role in foreign and security policies even though it has publicly said it is apolitical and wishes to work within its constitutional rights.

Politicians partly rely on the military to become prime minister but fallouts can see them eventually get ousted and face jail time on allegations ranging from corruption and murder to treason.

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.