Home Editorial Editorial: The Bushra Bibi factor

Editorial: The Bushra Bibi factor

A series of errors that can be traced back to Imran Khan’s spiritual leanings played a role in pushing Pakistan toward international isolation

by Editorial

File photo of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi

Former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda, this week, alleged that former Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa had informed then-prime minister Imran Khan of the alleged corruption of his third wife, Bushra Bibi, which was subsequently validated “with evidence” by then-ISI chief and incumbent Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asim Munir. Bushra’s friend Farah Khan, her husband Ahsan Gujjar, and then-Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar were allegedly also implicated. According to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Khan did not appreciate the warning, and demanded that Gen. Munir be replaced by Lt. Gen. (retd.) Faiz Hameed as the spymaster. This has brought Bushra into the limelight like never before.

Born Bushra Riaz Wattoo, Khan’s wife is now being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Al-Qadir Trust case alongside her husband, and is currently out on protective bail. A spiritual person devoted to Sufism, she wed Khan in 2018 after divorcing bureaucrat Khawar Farid Maneka. At the time, Khan claimed he had never seen “a woman as pious as” Bushra in the world.

The PTI chief’s marriage to Bushra, coming a few years after his divorce from Reham Khan, has been seen as part of his evolution from playboy to religious conservatism, which has played out during his time in government. Dubbed ‘Taliban Khan’ for his perceived support of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan while in opposition, Khan seemingly ramped up his sympathy as prime minister, declaring Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden a “martyr” during an address in the National Assembly. Predictably, this was not received well by the rest of the world, which is still reeling from the aftermath of the war on terror unleashed after the 9/11 attacks in New York.

Unfortunately, Khan’s term as prime minister defied statecraft and steered the country toward a path that was unsustainable. From alienating traditional allies like Saudi Arabia and China, to damaging ties with the U.S. through his “regime change conspiracy,” he pushed an isolationist worldview that no country can afford, much less one like Pakistan reliant on foreign handouts. Pakistan’s future prosperity lies not in Islamization, as pushed by Khan through the flawed single-national curriculum, but through trade and dialogue. The only means to achieve that is by facilitating, not damaging bilateral ties.

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