May 09 , 2017

Imran being forced by PML-N to explain his financial dealings

ISLAMABAD: Intense scrutiny and dissection of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s offshore company, purchase of Bani Gala land, his bank accounts and his financial dealings with his ex-wife is being comprehensively conducted by his rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), in the Supreme Court.

He has a lot to explain that he will be constrained to do through his lawyer Naeem Bokhari to avoid disqualification. About financial affairs, putting questions to political adversaries is easy but answering similar questions is always difficult. By filing a petition in the top court, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi has forced Imran Khan to lay bare all his monetary details to satisfy the three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar or attract disqualification as member of the National Assembly.

Nearly half a dozen hearings have so far been held on this plea but the PTI chief has not showed up even once while he had been regularly attending the lengthy proceedings in the Panama case for months against Prime Minister and his children.

As the Supreme Court had held day-to-day hearings, Imran Khan had been offering daily comments in a hard-hitting tone, taking on the premier. But he has consciously avoided any remarks on the ongoing proceedings against him so that he is not further exposed and an issue relating to him is further made a subject of public discussion. However, his spokesmen are trying hard to defend him.

The PML-N squad is shouting at the top of its voice to attack Imran. It is treating the petition as a good opportunity to denounce him and give him tit-for-tat in the same fashion.

Apart from the proceedings in the apex court, what is going on in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is no music to the PTI chief’s ears. The case of foreign funding to his party is in progress in the ECP although it has already faced a long delay, and all of its efforts for over two years to block it have not borne fruit. The PTI has gone to the high court more than once to impede the petition.

On Monday, the ECP turned down its challenge to the electoral commission’s jurisdiction, which came out as a major setback to the party which has made consistent attempts to get the case trashed on technical grounds. But his arguments have not impressed the ECP.

In the apex court, Abbasi’s lawyer Akram Sheikh raised some pertinent questions about Imran Khan’s financial dealings, asserting that the PTI chairman has become disqualified under article 62 of the Constitution.

He claimed that Imran Khan has stated that his London apartment was owned by the offshore company, Niazi Services Limited, and after its sale what importance does the offshore firm hold. After the disposal of the London flats, the offshore company became a shell firm. The lawyer sought documents regarding the details of Imran Khan's bank accounts along with those of his former spouse, Jemimah Khan, and the CitiBank account of one Rashid Ali Khan.

Justice Umer Atta Bandial told Sheikh that his case was one of capital assessment. The chief justice said: "Your point is that Imran Khan should have mentioned his London flat and declared his offshore company in his tax returns. By quoting relevant laws, can you explain how if a property is declared via an amnesty scheme, a person can be disqualified?”

Sheikh argued the flat was sold for approximately $600,000 while the Bani Gala estate was purchasaed for some $300,000. “Where did the other half go?"

However, Justice Nisar told the attorney a person cannot be disqualified on mere assumptions. But Sheikh insisted that the matter was criminal. The sale of the London flats and the purchase of the Bani Gala estate are merely tales, he claimed, alleging that this is really a matter of money laundering.



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