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Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan indicted on charge of violating Islamic marriage law

ISLAMABAD (AP) — A Pakistani court on Tuesday indicted imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his wife on a charge that their 2018 marriage violated the Islamic law requirement that a woman wait three months before remarriage, his lawyer said.

Khan denied the charge, and his lawyer, Intisar Panjutha, called the case one of scores against the former prime minister that he sees as a politically motivated attempt to keep Khan out of Pakistan’s general elections to be held next month.

Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi, who is a spiritual healer, was previously married to a man named Khawar Maneka who has claimed that they divorced in November 2017, less than three months ahead of Khan’s Jan. 1, 2018 marriage, which was announced in February of that year. But Bibi has said the divorce was in August of 2017.

Khan, who previously was married to socialite Jemima Goldsmith and journalist Reham Khan, and his current wife have both denied that they violated the three-month waiting period.

Khan pleaded not guilty Tuesday when charges were read out to him by a judge at Adiala prison in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. Bibi was not present at the time of indictment, though she has previously denied the charge.

“Everyone knows he’s being charged and incarcerated in bogus cases to keep him out of electoral race, however people of Pakistan don’t seem to be giving up on him,” Khan’s lawyer, Panjutha, said.

Khan, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in Parliament in April 2022, is currently serving a prison term in a graft case. Khan has also been embroiled in more than 150 cases, which include inciting people to violence after his arrest in May 2023.

During nationwide riots in May, Khan’s supporters from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party attacked the military’s headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, stormed an air base in Mianwali in the eastern Punjab province and torched a building housing state-run Radio Pakistan in the northwest.

The violence subsided only when Khan was released at the time by the Supreme Court.

On Tuesday, police arrested Khan ally Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on charges of inciting people to violence in May in the city of Rawalpindi. Ahmed served as interior minister in Khan’s government until his ouster.

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