Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan with his wife Bushra Bibi arrive to appear at a high court in Lahore on May 15, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

ISLAMABAD:  The wife of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was moved Wednesday from house arrest to the same jail as her husband, lawyers said, where the pair will serve matching prison terms for illegal marriage.

Bushra Bibi, 49, and Khan, 71, were both convicted of corruption and breaking Islamic marriage laws in the lead up to February’s general election.

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In her petition to the Islamabad High Court, Bushra Bibi had accused authorities of violating her privacy and serving contaminated food in her home cell, which she and her lawyers said was dominated by men, a charge the prison staff has denied.

Bibi says she has been detained in one room at Khan’s hilltop mansion in Islamabad since the couple’s January conviction on charges of illegally selling state gifts.

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Through her lawyers Bibi had asked to be shifted to jail, which authorities complied with shortly after the court issued the order, her party and a local administration official Afzaal Ahmad said.

The court ordered authorities to shift her to Adyala jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where Khan, 70, a former cricket superstar, is serving his 14-year sentence, his party said in a statement.

The party said Bibi’s shift to jail will answer critics that her stay at home instead of prison was part of some deal to seek concessions from the government.

Pakistan army spokesperson Major General Ahmed Sharif said on Tuesday in response to a question that it was not possible to open talks for any deal with a party that had been involved in attacks against the state institutions.

Khan, who was also jailed for leaking state secrets, says the cases were designed to keep him from contesting.

“She has already been shifted to a female ward of the jail on her own request,” Intazar Hussain Panjutha, a lawyer for Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, told AFP.

She had been held at the home she shared with Khan — declared a sub-jail — on the outskirts of the capital for the past three months.

Khan is also serving a concurrent 10-year term for leaking state secrets.

The divorced mother met Khan when he approached her for spiritual guidance and appear in public wearing a face-covering hijab.

She had made repeated requests to be “treated as a commoner” and taken to the prison, a spokesman for the party said.

First anniversary

The couple married just months before Khan was elected prime minister.

He was booted from power in April 2022 by a no-confidence vote.

He went on to wage a defiant campaign against the establishment which culminated in thousands of supporters pouring onto the streets on May 9 when he was first arrested.

Army installations and government property were targeted in a public display of anger against the military that is rarely seen in Pakistan.

Thousands of supporters were detained and dozens of party leaders rounded up, decimating Khan’s once unstoppable street power.

PTI said the first anniversary of the mass arrests on Thursday would be marked by rallies.

Just days before the national election, the pair were sentenced to seven years in prison for marrying too soon after her divorce in contradiction of Islamic law.

They had already been jailed for 14 years for corruption involving gifts he received while premier. The sentence was later suspended but the conviction still stands.

Despite the crackdown, PTI rattled the establishment by winning the most seats in February’s election but kept from power by a coalition of usually feuding parties.