ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has revised its constitution, introducing a radical change that would grant immunity to the office-bearers facing corruption charges, a major amendment that could open PTI gates for anyone tainted with corruption charges, even those powerful people who are in the government.
This is in sharp contrast to the PTI position on alleged corruption of sitting rulers who have repeatedly been asked to resign from public offices to clear charges against them, even if they have not yet been convicted by any court.
The clause governing the qualification criteria for the PTI office-bearers in the previous constitution had stated: “…who has not been convicted or charged with an offence of moral turpitude.” In the constitution revised after October 30 mammoth gathering in Lahore, the word ‘charged’ has been removed and now it only says: “…who has not been convicted with an offence of moral turpitude.”
Dr Arif Alvi, PTI secretary general, admitted the amendment has been made, saying the PTI would focus on reputation of the office-bearers instead of charges against them. He denied the amendment has been made to give a clean chit to anybody.
Incidentally, a PTI leader, Amir Kiani, who faces allegations from within the PTI for depriving the party colleagues of hefty money in the name of property business, was also a member of the committee which amended the constitution. The other four members of the constitution committee have either partnered or purchased property through Kiani. They are Dr Arif Alvi, Sardar Azhar Tariq (secretary finance), Saifullah Niazi (additional secretary general) and Asad Qaiser (PTI head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter).
More importantly, Kiani has also brokered property deals with Imran Khan purchasing from him 40-kanal land in collaboration with three other PTI office-bearers, which according to some critics, makes PTI look like a ‘property guild.’
The amendment in the constitution has apparently been made to save Kiani who is not only holding the position of vice president but has also been appointed chairman of monitoring and evaluation, a slot created for him, no matter it does not exist in the PTI constitution.
A veteran lady member of the PTI who was present when these amendments were discussed by the CEC told The News that Imran Khan personally was not involved in this decision making and the CEC had deliberated at length on the subject. But she conceded that the clause needed further rectification.
The change in the constitution coincides with a letter written by a CEC member, Col (R) Younis Raza to Imran Khan alleging that Amir Kiani had minted millions of rupees from the complainant and his close friends in the name of property deals.
A PTI spokesman when emailed a list of questions that also related to the property deals, raising concerns about the conflict of interests because of these deals, said: “Such business relations among the office-bearers have nothing to do with the party affairs.”
In August, 2011, Col (R) Younis Raza had complained about Kiani’s alleged deals, saying that Kiani had sold him and two retired generals around 100 kanals of land in the outskirts of Islamabad (Talhar and Kotla) in 2004 and 2006 but were either denied possession or not given the documents. Younis also invested in a shopping plaza in Rawalpindi through Kiani in 2006 but failed to get ownership of any shop to-date.
The PTI chairman took no action over his complaint and the party spokesman Shafqat Mahmood told The News that the “issue is being settled.”
Col Younis’ closing line in his letter must be alarming for the PTI leadership: “Certain security agencies had conducted certain inquiries wherein the name of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf had repeatedly been reiterated in this connection in a defamatory and scandalous style.”
The complainant confirmed to The News that he had written the letter that, he said, was withdrawn after no inquiry was ordered, let alone taking action. He wrote this to Imran Khan when Younis was badly in need of money prior to his son’s wedding and thought any recovery from Kiani would lessen his financial trouble.
“I thought Khan Sahib is involved in many projects and he will have no time to attend to my ‘insignificant’ complaint so I thought it best to withdraw my letter and inform him that I would mutually resolve the matter with Amir Kiani,” Col Younis told The News. However, he said, no progress had been made in this regard to-date.
Kiani has been at forefront in property deals with the top party leaders. In 2004, he purchased 40 kanals of land from Imran Khan in Talhar. Kiani was then PTI vice president. PTI’s secretary finance Sardar Azhar Tariq, secretary planning and policy Asad Ansari, and CEC member Col (R) Younis were his co-buyers in this land deal with the top leader, according to Kiani.
Again, it was Kiani who paid token money from his pocket when he negotiated a tract of 35-kanal land in Bani Gala jointly registered in the names of Imran Khan, Dr Arif Alvi, Umar Sarfraz Cheema and Zakir Khan (former cricketer and a friend of Imran Khan). Kiani confirmed this to The News.
Kiani together with his close aide Saifullah Niazi, PTI’s additional secretary general, has also purchased adjacent lands in Bani Gala apart from brokering such deals for Asad Qaiser and Ahmad Jawad (deputy secretary information), other buyers from within the party. Only non-PTI person bought land there is the owner of a famous bakery in Islamabad who financed the advertisement of a sit-in staged by the party in August 2011.
Col (R) Younis in his letter had also alleged, “Senior PTI positions including CEC memberships have been offered on the condition of purchasing land in this scheme (of Bani Gala).”
At the moment, Kiani and Niazi, command tremendous influence over the party leadership and incidentally both were appointed on positions that did not exist in the PTI constitution.
When Dr Arif Alvi was asked as to how the former was appointed chairman monitoring and evaluation and the latter additional secretary general, in violation of the constitution, he said the party chairman is authorised to do so. However, his claim is negated by the PTI constitution. It says that even the creation of special committees cannot be done unless “approved by the CEC from time to time.”