Bushra Bibi: Imran Khan’s wife granted bail after he warns Pakistan government will target her next

Pakistan’s former president predicts full-blown crackdown against leadership of his PTI party

Shweta Sharma
Monday 15 May 2023 16:57 BST
Former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi appear at a high court in Lahore
Former prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi appear at a high court in Lahore (AFP/Getty)

Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi was granted temporary protection from arrest by a court on Monday, after he predicted she will be targeted in what he describes as a government campaign against him.

The former prime minister’s dramatic arrest last week triggered deadly protests across Pakistan and escalated a political crisis in the country.

Mr Khan and Ms Bibi arrived at Lahore High Court amid tight security to seek protective bail in a corruption case linked to a real-estate business tycoon.

The court granted bail to Ms Bibi until 23 May.

Mr Khan tweeted early on Monday that Pakistan’s military and government will put his wife in jail to “humiliate” him, and alluded to a so-called “London plan” to keep him behind bars for 10 years on sedition charges.

“So now the complete London plan is out. Using pretext of violence while I was inside the jail, they have assumed the role of judge, jury and executioner. The Plan now is to humiliate me by putting Bushra ... in jail, and using some sedition law to keep me inside for next ten years”, he tweeted.

He also forecast a full-blown crackdown on his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party, predicting that it would eventually be outlawed by the Shehbaz Sharif government.

Ms Bibi, Mr Khan’s third wife, was co-accused with her husband in a corruption case in relation to which the former prime minister was arrested last week.

The pair are accused of receiving financial favours worth millions of dollars in lieu of providing benefits to property tycoon Malik Riaz.

It is alleged that Mr Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of Pakistani rupees to build an educational institute called Al-Qadir University, of which the two are named as trustees. The case is popularly known as the Al-Qadir University Trust case.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency, alleged that Mr Khan’s PTI government had struck a deal with the business tycoon that caused more than $239m (£191m) in losses to the national exchequer.

In December 2019, during an investigation by Britain’s National Crime Agency, Mr Riaz admitted handing over assets.

Mr Khan has denied charges, saying the land was donated for charitable purposes.

This is one of more than 100 cases, covering crimes including terrorism and even blasphemy, in relation to which Mr Khan has been arrested since his removal from office last year.

The NAB said Mr Khan was arrested “for the crime of corruption” in relation to the trust. Mr Khan was released after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that his latest arrest, last Tuesday, was unlawful.

It comes as a counter-protest was held by supporters of the Pakistani government, including some ministers, in front of the Supreme Court, to demand Mr Khan’s arrest.

Mr Khan said the counter-protests were an attempt to “overawe the Chief Justice of Pakistan so that he doesn’t give a verdict according to the constitution”.

“Our peaceful protest is against Chief Justice (Umar Ata Bandial) for facilitating the release of Imran Khan,” said Fazalur Rehman, the head of the Pakistan Democratic Alliance.

Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, joined more than 3,000 supporters who had gathered near the sprawling court building to stage the sit-in protest.

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