Bushra Bibi, the mystic wife of Imran Khan, was thrust into the spotlight today as she was sentenced to jail alongside her husband.
Bibi and Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, were given a 14 year jail term and fined millions of dollars after keeping expensive jewellery and watches gifted by officials from Saudi Arabia.
It comes just days after Khan was handed a 10 year sentence of imprisonment for leaking state secrets.
Khan famously captained Pakistan’s cricket team in the 1980s and was elected to the nation’s highest office in 2018.
Much less is known about Bushra Bibi, a mystic who rarely appears in public and only wears a face-covering hijab when she does.
Bibi is Khan’s third wife and played a key role Khan’s meteoric rise and fall.
Khan’s first marriage was to British woman Jemima Goldsmith. In 1995 the 21-year-old heiress converted to Islam and tied the knot with 41-year-old Khan who was notorious for his playboy lifestyle.
The daughter of the extremely wealthy financier Frank Goldsmith, she had two sons with Khan and they split in 2004.
Khan then married Reham Khan in 2015, a journalist he met while doing an interview. That whirlwind relationship only lasted 10 months, with Reham blaming bullying by his supporters for straining their marriage.
Bibi herself was married to customs official Khawar Maneka, and the couple had five children. Then she met Khan.
By most reports, it was religion that first brought Khan and Bibi together.
With a growing interest in the Sufism, a type of Islamic mysticism, Khan began attending the Shrine of Baba Farid where Bibi was a faith healer.
Over time they established a peer-muridi, she become his “spiritual mentor”.
And she made some startling predictions for his political future.
After being introduced by Bibi’s sister Maryam Riaz Wattoo, Khan began visiting Bibi at Maneka’s house, allegedly without her husband’s consent.
Some reports stated Khan formed an “illicit relationship” with Bibi while she was still married.
Khan denied he had proposed to her before she was divorced and said he had never seen her face before they married.
“I would like to reiterate that every time I met her, with family and alone, she has been in purdah (veil). My interest in her lies in the fact that I have not seen or met anyone with her level of spirituality. I only sent the proposal for marriage after she divorced her husband,” he said, according to Gulf News.
Maneka later claimed that Bibi remarried during the iddat, a directive from the Koran that a woman must not marry a man following a divorce until a period of about 89 days has elapsed.
He said Khan had ruined their marriage.
“We had a very happy married life and Imran ruined it under the garb of peer-muridi,” Maneka said, according to the Times of India.
Along with spiritual advice, Bibi is rumoured to have whispered to Khan portends of a great future — she had dreamed that Khan would become the prime minister of Pakistan if they were married, the BBC reports.
Whether it was her mystic powers — or her family’s political connections — they tied the knot in a quiet ceremony on 18 February 2018.
She later denied the story about her fortune telling in a rare TV interview, but did predict Pakistan’s fortunes would turn for the better after he was elected, which he was six months after they were wed.
However, faced with extreme economic problems, Khan’s tenure didn’t go well and he lost the support of Pakistan’s military.
He became the first Pakistani prime minister to be booted from office through a vote of no confidence in 2022.
Now the full force of the judiciary has been set upon them.
Khan’s lawyer, Salman Safdar, confirmed to AFP that he had been sentenced alongside his wife, who had been on remand throughout the trial.
Intazar Hussain Panjutha, one of Khan’s legal team, said Bibi had surrendered herself to authorities.
It’s just one of many problems that have beset the couple.
Since being ousted, Khan has been buried by court cases he claims have been triggered to prevent his return to office after a campaign of defiance against Pakistan’s military kingmakers.
The 71-year-old had accused the powerful military, with whom he ruled in partnership for much of his tenure, of orchestrating his ouster in a US-backed conspiracy.
When Khan was first arrested in May last year, riots broke out across the country.
But his street power was killed by a military crackdown that saw thousands of supporters detained, 100 of whom are facing closed-door military trials — and dozens of senior leaders forced underground.
“You have to take revenge for every injustice with your vote on February 8,” Khan said in a statement posted on his X profile reacting to his 10-year sentence on Tuesday.
“Tell them that we are not sheep that can be driven with a stick.”
As a result of the ongoing crackdown, Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has moved most of its campaigning online, where it has been bogged down by state-imposed internet blackouts.
The party has also been stripped of its cricket bat election symbol, in a nation where literacy lags, making icons vital for identifying candidates on ballot papers.
Nawaz Sharif, head of one of the two dynastic parties that have historically helmed Pakistan, has returned from self-imposed exile and seen his myriad convictions dissolve in the courts.
Analysts say it is a sign the three-time former prime minister is the favoured candidate of the military, which has directly ruled Pakistan for just under half its history.
– with AFP