Can Peerni Bushra Bibi's Prayers Save Pakistan PM Imran Khan's Ouster From Power?

Bushra Bibi aka 'Pinki Pir' is said to play a pivotal behind the scene role in every decision her husband Imran Khan takes. Did she advise him to take on the army over naming of the new ISI chief last year? The former spy boss Faiz Hameed had played a crucial part in getting Khan 'selected' as PM.

Pakistan PM Imran Khan with his spiritual healer wife Bushra Bibi aka Pinki Peerni

When Imran Khan returned from New York in 2019, after a thunderous speech on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly a month after India had scrapped the state’s special status, he received a hero’s welcome by his supporters. Speaking soon after landing back home  Imran Khan publicly thanked his wife. "I especially thank Bushra Bibi because she prayed a lot for my UN speech on Kashmir."

Yes, Bushra Bibi is no ordinary wife, she is also a faith healer, commonly referred to as Pinky Peerni. She remains Imran Khan’s spiritual guide and he is said to consult her on all important matters including major political developments. Her insights and prayers guide Pakistan’s Prime Minister. Imran Khan married Bushra Bibi in 2018 and presented Pakistan with a first lady who maintains strict purdah. She is so far the only first lady in Pakistan to do so.

No one really knows what Pinki Peerni has advised Imran on the current political turmoil and whether she had any hand in his stand-off with army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa over the appointment of the country’s spy chief last year. But the rumour mills in Pakistan point to the fact that she has a say in every senior appointment of the higher bureaucracy. She apparently can foretell whether an officer will be a threat or an asset to her husband.

Bilawal Bhutto of the Pakistan People’s Party had said in one of his rallies that the country’s first lady had the final say in the postings of senior bureaucracy. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) leader Shahbaz Sharif recently claimed that tons of meat are being burnt in Imran Khan’s Banigala residence to ward off the evil eye. Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam said "We know that jadu tona (witchcraft) is going on in Banigala to save Imran’s government but that will also not help.’’

Imran Khan with his third wife Bushra Maneka Bibi and rest of his family in Lahore | Credit: PTI (File Photo)

Pinki Peerni is described as a saintly faith healer by her supporters, while detractors charge her of practising black magic.

In fact,  the superstitious Imran Khan was bowled over by some of her political predictions. According to a report in a Pakistani newspaper, quoting an unidentified friend of Imran Khan at the time of his marriage, had this to say, ``He (Khan) got closer to her when some of the political predictions she made about his party came true. Later, both developed some ‘intimacy’ and finally, Bushra took divorce from her husband and contracted marriage with Imran early last month.”

Bushra Bibi is a follower of Baba Farid a 12th-century Sufi saint in Pakpattan, a village in Punjab where she lived with her husband Khawar Farid Maneka. He was a senior customs officer and the couple had five children.

Imran Khan was a frequent visitor to the shrine and he would often spend time at the family’s home after these visits. The two reportedly first met in 2015. She is also a highly respected Sufi scholar.

"My interest in Sufism started 30 years ago. It changed my life. Sufism is an order with many levels, but I have never met anyone who is as high as my wife. My interest in her began with that,’’ Khan has said after his marriage. The spiritual conversations soon took on a political tone, when her predictions on a few candidate's elections also came true. Khan began consulting her on several of his political moves.

It is said that Pinki Pir had a dream that Imran Khan could become prime minister if he married into her family. She tried to get him to marry first her sister and then her daughter. But Khan was not inclined.

Finally, she divorced her husband, and Imram Khan self-righteously proclaims that he proposed to her only when she divorced her husband. He also claims he had not seen her face before he married her.

Stories about Pinki Pir are a dime a dozen in Pakistan. There is talk that she keeps two djinns who help her in her predictions. Those who came to seek her advice had to give her two vats full of cooked meat as fees. The meat was for Bushra Bibi’s two djinns. Much of this cannot be confirmed. All that is known is that Imran Khan seeks out his wife for guidance in every major decision he takes.