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Wife of Pakistan’s Imran Khan, charged with graft, is known for spirituality

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(Last Updated On: May 17, 2023)

Bushra Khan, the wife of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, is facing corruption charges in the same case that led to his arrest on May 9. On Monday, he accompanied her to a court that granted her protective bail, Reuters reported.

She is known for her spirituality and devotion to Sufism, a mystical form of Islam. Khan, 70, has often called Bushra his spiritual leader.

Born Bushra Riaz Watto, she changed her name to Khan after her marriage. Her husband and followers commonly refer to her as Bushra Bibi or Bushra Begum, titles that in Urdu denote respect.

She has kept a low profile since her marriage to Khan, a former cricket hero who has been in the public eye for decades.

Below are some facts about Bushra:

EARLY LIFE

Bushra, who is in her late 40s, hails from a family of landowners in Punjab. Little is known about her early life. Her first marriage, which lasted about 30 years, was to Khawar Farid Maneka, a customs officer from a politically influential Punjab family. After their divorce in 2018 he was quoted by Pakistani media as saying: “I want to clearly state about my former wife, Bushra Bibi, that I have not seen a woman as pious as her in the world”.

Bushra and Maneka have five children, Reuters reported.

MYSTIC, SECRET MARRIAGE

Both Bushra and ex-husband Maneka are devotees of Fariduddin Masud Ganjshakar, or Baba Farid, a revered Muslim mystic and Sufi saint whose shrine is located in Maneka’s hometown of Pakpattan in Punjab.

Pakistanis who admire Bushra’s devotion to the saint call her a spiritual leader while Khan’s opponents accuse her of practicing sorcery, a claim Khan’s aides have repeatedly denied. In a rare interview, Bushra told local HUM news network in 2018 that “people would come to see me to get closer to God and the Prophet”.

It was not clear when or how Khan met Bushra, but former aide Aun Chaudhry said Khan was very impressed with her spirituality.

Khan, who had acquired a playboy image in the 1990s as his cricket career took off, has previously said he was keenly interested in Sufism.

Khan and Bushra married in 2018, seven months before he was elected prime minister, in a secret ceremony. The marriage was Khan’s third after Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of business tycoon James Goldsmith, and TV journalist Reham Nayyar Khan. Both these marriages ended in divorce.

SPIRITUAL JOURNEY

A few months before Khan was elected prime minister, local media carried photos of the couple prostrating at the Baba Farid shrine. In the HUM interview, Bushra said: “Every moment of Khan sahib’s life is now dedicated to God, the Prophet and the love for Baba Farid”.

Bushra, who is always seen in public wearing a veil and a burqa that shows only her eyes, did not accompany her husband on any official overseas trips during his time in office except for visits to Saudi Arabia, where they were filmed at the holy Muslim cities of Mecca and Medina.

AL-QADIR TRUST

Members of Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, have said Bushra inspired Khan to set up Al-Qadir Trust, a non-governmental welfare organisation that runs a university outside Islamabad devoted to spirituality and Islamic teachings.

The trust is part of the corruption charges levied against the couple. While prime minister, Khan promoted the trust at official events, and the couple are the sole trustees, according to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.

Khan’s party spokesman Farrukh Habib told Reuters the case was politically motivated and that the couple draw no financial benefit from the trust, read the report.

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Anti-Muslim hate speech soars in India, research group says

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(Last Updated On: February 26, 2024)

Anti-Muslim hate speech in India rose by 62% in the second half of 2023 compared to the first six months of the year, a Washington-based research group said on Monday, adding the Israel-Gaza war played a key role in the last three months.

India Hate Lab documented 668 hate speech incidents targeting Muslims in 2023, 255 of which occurred in the first half of the year, while 413 took place in the last six months of 2023, the research group said in a report released Monday.

About 75%, or 498, of those incidents took place in states governed by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the report.

The states of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh accounted for the most hate speech.

Between Oct. 7 – when Hamas attacked Israel, sparking the conflict in the Gaza Strip as Israel retaliated – and Dec. 31, there were 41 incidents of hate speech against Indian Muslims that mentioned the war, the report added. It accounted for about 20% of hate speech in the last three months of 2023.

The research group said it used the United Nations’ definition of hate speech – prejudiced or discriminatory language towards an individual or group based on attributes including religion, ethnicity, nationality, race or gender.

Rights groups have alleged mistreatment of Muslims under Modi, who became prime minister in 2014 and is widely expected to retain power after the 2024 elections. – Reuters

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One dead, one injured in blast in India’s Manipur state

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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2024)

One person died and another was injured in a bomb blast at a college in Imphal, the capital of India’s northeastern state of Manipur, on Friday night, security officials said.

No group has taken responsibility for the blast of the improvised explosive device (IED), the officials said, Reuters reported.

“The IED exploded in the campus of a college [DM College campus] in the city. One person died, and the other is being treated in the hospital,” one of the officials said.

Manipur has been hit by fierce fighting since last May between members of the majority Meitei and minority Kuki communities over sharing economic benefits and quotas given to the tribes. Close to 200 people have been killed in the conflict.

Imphal, inhabited by the Meitei community, has seen several incidents of violence since the conflict first broke out.

The bomb on Friday exploded in the office of the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), a student organisation, located inside the DM University campus in Imphal West district.

The two injured were immediately rushed to the hospital, where one succumbed to his injuries, the officials said.

Later at night, around 1 a.m. (1930 GMT), the office of the United Committee Manipur, a civil society organisation representing Meitei interests, was torched.

 

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Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan urges IMF to call election audit, his lawyer says

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(Last Updated On: February 23, 2024)

Pakistan’s jailed former prime minister Imran Khan will write to the IMF urging it to call for an independent audit of the country’s controversial Feb. 8 national elections before it continues talks with Islamabad, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Pakistan averted default last summer thanks to a short term International Monetary Fund bailout, but the programme expires next month and a new government will have to negotiate a long-term arrangement to keep the $350 billion economy stable, Reuters reported.

Khan and his party alleged that the polls, which did not return a majority for any party, were rigged. Candidates backed by Khan won the most seats, but an alliance of his rival parties has more seats and is in a position to form the next government.

“The letter from Imran Khan we will say clearly that if the IMF wants to talk to Pakistan, they should place conditions of an independent audit (of the polls),” Khan’s lawyer, Ali Zafar, told reporters outside the jail where the former premier and cricket hero is imprisoned.

Pakistan’s election commission denies widespread rigging and is hearing complaints by various applicants who allege irregularities, read the report.

Zafar said that multilateral agencies such as the IMF and international blocs such as the European Union can only give financial assistance on the condition that there is good governance and democracy, including free and fair elections.

The IMF met with political parties last year to seek assurances of their support of key objectives and policies under the bailout programme.

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