Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan married Bushra Maneka, a respected Pir [faith healer] in Pakpattan, in "a simple ceremony" in Lahore on Sunday, the party's spokesperson told DawnNews.
Confirming Khan's third marriage, PTI spokesperson Fawad Chaudhary said that the ceremony was held at the residence of Bushra's brother.
Party leader Inamul Haq told DawnNews that only close relatives, including the bride's mother, and friends participated in the ceremony — Khan's sisters, however, were not in attendance. Mufti Saeed performed the nikah in the presence of Awn Chaudhary and Zulfi Bukhari who appeared as witnesses, said PTI members.
The ceremony was a low-profile one as per the desire of Imran Khan, Haq added. He expressed hope that Imran Khan's marriage would prove blessed not only for him and his wife but for the entire nation.
PTI leaders, including Naeemul Haque, Shireen Mazari, Jahangir Tareen, and Shah Mehmood Qureshi, congratulated Khan and his new wife on their marriage on Twitter.
Bushra Maneka is in her 40s, and belongs to the Wattoo clan, of which the Manekas are a sub-clan. Earlier, she was married to Khawar Farid Maneka, a senior customs official in Islamabad but parted ways in recent times.
The PTI chief has been married twice before. His first marriage was with Jemima Goldsmith, daughter of a British billionaire in 1995. The couple divorced in 2004.
Khan's second marriage to Reham Khan dissolved 10 months after a public ceremony had taken place in January, 2015.
Speculation around third marriage
The News in an article published in January claimed that Khan had married for the third time in a secret ceremony on January 1, saying that Mufti Saeed had performed the nikkah. PTI had originally refuted the claim, calling the speculation "ridiculous". A day later, however, the party had 'clarified' that Khan had only proposed marriage to Bushra Maneka.
Soon after, the party leader had also broken his silence on the speculation through a series of tweets, saying, "My only crime is wanting to get married". Khan, who has two sons from his first marriage, had also appealed to people to pray for his "personal happiness".
During an interview the same month, Khan had said: “I met Bushra [Maneka] almost two years ago. I will like to reiterate that every time I met her, with family and alone, she has been in purdah. My interest in her lies in the fact that I have not seen or met anyone with her level of spirituality.”
He had made it clear that he only sent the proposal for marriage after she divorced her husband.
Khan’s connection with the Manekas was confirmed by PTI leader Naeemul Haq in 2016 when rumours were doing the rounds that the PTI chief had married a UK-based relative of the family on the advice of his spiritual patron, Bushra Bibi, also known as Ms Pinki Pir.
Haq had then denied reports about Khan’s third marriage but confirmed in his tweet that his leader had “spiritual relationship” with the Maneka family.
A source close to the family had told Dawn that Khan first visited Bushra ahead of the NA-154 (Lodhran) by-poll in 2015 and was very pleased when Jahangir Tareen won the seat according to her prediction. Since then he has been visiting her regularly, the source had added.
Mumtaz Hayat Maneka, a young Aitchisonian from the Maneka clan, had said the PTI leader had a lot of reverence for Pinki Bibi as a true follower.