ISLAMABAD: Who is Ahmad Khalil and what is his role in the Malik Riaz-Arsalan Iftikhar scandal, which has now been taken up by the Supreme Court of Pakistan following an unprecedented suo moto notice taken by the chief judge of the country against his own son?
A businessman from Lahore, Khalil has been a friend of Arsalan Iftikhar till recently. He is also associated with one of Bahria Town’s projects and is also closely connected to Malik Riaz Hussain. Khalil is also a buddy of Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.
Dr Arsalan Iftikhar said that he had never met Malik Riaz Hussain in his whole life. Dr Arsalan may be speaking the truth but the question arises if he ever knew that his friend Ahmad Khalil is closely associated with Malik Riaz and what has been Khalil’s role in concluding what has now emerged as a unique scandal in the history of Pakistan.
The leading real-estate developer in the country has not yet come on the media to talk about this issue. Although he is reported to have briefed a few journalists about the alleged scam, he did not hand over any evidence to anyone.
Ahmad Khalil, who did not take the call of this correspondent on Wednesday, is believed to be a key person to uncover the real story and who trapped or defrauded whom.
Whether it is a case of the smartest of all traps against the Chief Justice of Pakistan on the part of the business group and vested interests or shameless corruption on the part of the CJ’s son, Arsalan is accused of pocketing around Rs340 million from Bahria Town, directly or indirectly, with the promise that the business tycoon would get relief in his cases in the Supreme Court.
On Tuesday night, before the CJ took suo moto notice of this scam, Arsalan while talking to this correspondent denied having taken any money from Bahria Town and insisted that he never met Malik Riaz in his whole life.
But the scam, as has been secretly shared by some key persons associated with Bahria Town with some journalists, portrays Arsalan as a fool or a daredevil or a perfect innocent for taking his family members to London thrice during the last three years and getting sponsored, allegedly, by no one else but Bahria Town. One Rizwan, who is the son-in-law of Malik Riaz, is alleged to have generally made payments for these trips.
Arsalan, however, insisted that his friend Ahmad Khalil had engaged Bahria Town in these tours without his knowledge. Later, he claimed, he repaid the amount to Khalil through the latter’s cousin Zaid Rehman, who was in London to facilitate them.
As reflected by Hamid Mir in the Supreme Court, Arsalan’s accuser claims to have documentary evidence and even video recordings to prove their case against the son of the chief justice. However, this correspondent’s probe confirmed that there is not even an iota of evidence, whether direct or indirect, against the chief justice of Pakistan in these otherwise extremely embarrassing affairs. Even otherwise the cases of Bahria Town were always heard by a three-member bench and never by the chief justice of Pakistan alone.
The fact that at what stage Arsalan came to know about the involvement of Bahria Town in these foreign tours could be ascertained by an independent probe but it is confirmed from all possible sources that neither the CJ nor his family was told by Arsalan at any stage that Bahria Town had anything to do with their foreign visits.
Arsalan’s accusers have been claiming that for the last three years they have been bribing and sponsoring Arsalan’s foreign tours after having been blackmailed by the young man. But despite promises the CJ’s son never delivered and demanded more and more.
As already reflected in the media, it is alleged that in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 the tours of CJ’s family members were financed by Bahria Town. A few journalists have also been shown the alleged record of credit card payments, made by the daughter and son-in-law of Malik Riaz, living in London, for the extremely expensive London accommodation of Arsalan and his other family members besides paying for Arsalan’s rented luxury Land Rover. Only in one case an apartment is claimed to have been booked for the family for one month costing 40,000 pounds (Rs7,000,000). The Bahria Town sources wondered how such luxurious trips missed the attention of the chief justice.
Arsalan strongly rejected this alleged evidence and said Ahmad Khalil had told him that in 2010 the rent of the flat was 1,600 pounds per month and in 2011 it was 12,000 pounds per month. The Bahria Town sources alleged that the family had also done shopping from Harrods and even the payment there was made by Bahria Town. Arsalan strongly rejected this allegation as well. Arsalan is also accused by these sources of approaching the Bahria Town bosses by himself through his friends.
Arsalan Iftikhar said the enemies of his father are trying to target the CJ through him for all that the CJ is doing against corruption, the corrupt and the most powerful. He categorically denied that he received even a single penny from Malik Riaz. “My father’s track record is before everyone. He is a man who can’t be approached,” he said, adding if the claims of Malik Riaz are correct about paying or benefiting him to get his SC cases settled in his favour, then why did it not happen even in one single case?
Arsalan said that he was recently warned by Bahria Town owner through an indirect source that if their cases were not settled, they would leak the story to the foreign and local media. Arsalan did not explain as to who conveyed him these threats.
Arsalan categorically said that he never met Malik Riaz in his whole life but was trapped by a friend, who was requested to arrange his foreign tours for which he was to pay him back upon his return from each tour.
He explained that Ahmad Khalil — a private businessman from Lahore who was his close friend and also happened to be associated with one of Bahria Town’s projects — dragged him into such a situation where the payments of his foreign visits were made by Bahria Town. “I came to know about this only once I returned,” he said.
Arsalan admitted that Ahmad Khalil has been asking him to talk favourably to the chief justice about Malik Riaz’s cases but he never acceded to such requests because he knew his father would never entertain such requests and has always decided cases on merit.
The CJ’s son said that he is into the construction and telecommunications business and earns reasonable profits to finance the foreign visits of his family members. He said that his business value is Rs900 million, it has more than 400 employees and has paid Rs2.2 million and Rs3.2 million as tax in 2011 and 2010, respectively.
He lamented that he had to depend on Ahmad Khalil because he did not want to carry cash with him. Khalil arranged the accommodation and rented the Land Rover for their travelling in the UK but later it appeared to him that the payments were made there by Bahria Town and that the credit cards used were that of the son-in-law and daughter of Malik Riaz.
He admitted that in 2010 and 2011 he and his family lived in apartments costing almost 12,000 and 14,000 pounds, respectively, the payments for that were made by Bahria Town. Upon his return, he said, it was revealed to him by Ahmad Khalil that he had asked Bahria Town to manage everything and make the payments. Khalil explained to him that Arsalan and his family were the guests of Khalil and not Bahria Town.
When asked if he had paid back the money to Ahmad Khalil, he said Khalil was not keen to get the money because of their relationship but still he later transferred Rs5 million to the account of Khalil’s cousin Zaid Rehman, who facilitated them in London. Arsalan said that his father had clearly told him after the restoration of the judiciary that he would not be responsible for any of his misdeeds or wrongdoings.
Arsalan’s accusers believe that palms are greased in Pakistan even to get a legal thing done and in this particular case the son of the CJ has been exploiting them extensively.
The CJ’s son said that he was prepared to face an inquiry and would prove himself innocent. He laughed at the allegation of receiving Rs340 million benefits including cash from Bahria Town. He even challenged his accusers, who also claimed to have video recordings of his receiving cash, to show transaction of even a single penny what to talk of Rs300 million to Rs400 million.
This correspondent had a chance to talk to Ahmad Khalil last month. When approached, Khalil endorsed Arsalan’s accuser’s viewpoint and insisted that he was told prior to every foreign visit that he and his family’s tours were sponsored by Bahria Town. Khalil, however, was unsure if the CJ’s family knew about the alleged sponsors of their foreign trips.
Khalil admitted to have talked to Arsalan several times about what he called the “unfair” deal that the Bahria Town owner was getting in the Supreme Court.
A friend of the CJ’s family, known to this correspondent, when approached said that the wife and daughters of the CJ’s family had absolutely no idea as to who had arranged the trip and what was the cost of the accommodation. It is said Arsalan had told the family that since he was earning a handsome amount so he was spending all the money but now the family is in a state of shock to learn about the kind of allegations levelled against them.