South Asia

Pakistani court indicts ex-PM Imran Khan and wife on graft charges

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani court on Tuesday indicted former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his third wife, Bushra Bibi, on charges of allegedly accepting land as a bribe, according to his political party. The charges, stemming from accusations of misusing his office during his tenure, add to a series of legal challenges Khan faces ahead of the Feb. 8 national election.

Khan, 71, who has been detained since August over separate charges, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. The former prime minister, already convicted in four cases including two on graft charges, faces sentences totaling up to 14 years and a political disqualification for a decade.

The trials, held within jail premises for security reasons, saw Khan and his wife pleading not guilty. Despite these legal battles, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party achieved a significant victory in the recent parliamentary elections, with its candidates winning the most seats as independents, following a ban on the party’s participation.

The PTI’s success came amid what it describes as a crackdown supported by the military, yet opposition parties, notably the Sharif and Bhutto families, formed a minority coalition government.

This latest indictment centers on the Al-Qadir Trust, a welfare organization founded by Khan and Bibi in 2018. Prosecutors allege the trust was used to illicitly receive approximately 60 acres of land near Islamabad and another parcel near Khan’s residence, facilitated by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain. Hussain, a powerful figure in Pakistan’s business landscape, has refuted these allegations and has yet to respond to the anti-graft agency’s summons.

The PTI has criticized the indictment, arguing that the trial’s confinement to prison settings is designed to ensure an unjust outcome and is politically motivated to keep Khan incarcerated. The party has also dismissed the election results, citing widespread fraud.