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Friday June 14, 2024

No need of enemy in presence of Imran: PM

The PM asked what legal route did Imran Khan adopt other than hurling threats and making baseless allegations

By Ag App & Asim Yasin & By Muhammad Anis & Our Correspondent & Shakeel Anjum
May 10, 2023
A collage of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (left) and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — PID/Instagram/@imrankhan.pti
A collage of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (left) and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — PID/Instagram/@imrankhan.pti

ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif came hard on Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan on Tuesday for his blatant lies, vicious attacks on institutions, using religion for political purposes and bending the judiciary for his whims.

“I have no doubt that your politics is defined by blatant lies, untruths, U-turns, and vicious attacks on institutions. Bending the judiciary to your whims and behaving as if rules don’t apply to you,” the prime minister in a long tweet said.

Shehbaz Sharif pointed out that you (Imran) “in his tweet is established by facts over the past few years.”

The prime minister also put four counter-questions to Imran Khan. One, maligning Pakistan Army as an institution is a recurring pattern in your (Imran’s) politics after your ouster from power. “Did you not resort to constant mud-slinging of the leadership of the army & intelligence agency much before the Wazirabad attack?” the prime minister asked.

Secondly, the prime minister asked what legal route did Imran Khan adopt other than hurling threats and making baseless allegations almost on a daily basis. “You refused the offer of cooperation from the federal government and boycotted the legal proceedings and you were never interested in finding the truth about the attack but used the condemnable incident for petty political objectives,” Shehbaz Sharif questioned.

Thirdly, the prime minister questioned at whose behest was the savaging social media campaign against the martyrs of the armed forces launched after the helicopter crash. “Which party did the troll brigade belong to that mocked the martyrs, which was a new low and unimaginable in our politics and culture? With these subversive/treacherous acts on your part, do we need an enemy?” he questioned.

Fourthly, the prime minister questioned who has used religion for political purposes by describing the political agitation in religious terms, a cunning and self-serving attempt at exposing political opponents to violence at the hands of your supporters. “Did your party leaders not condone, justify and even celebrate the incident of harassment and intimidation of an official delegation including a female minister in the courtyard of our beloved Prophet’s Mosque (Peace Be Upon Him) by disregarding all norms of reverence and devoutness?” the prime minister asked.

“Let this be abundantly clear that you, as former prime minister, currently on trial for corruption, are claiming legitimacy to overturn the legal and political system,” Shehbaz Sharif said.

As for his assertion of Pakistan becoming a ‘jungle’, he advised him not to go there, for the facts are often bitter and disastrous. “Let us keep this for another day,” he suggested.

Meanwhile, Federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Imran Khan was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Al-Qadir Trust case, for embezzling Rs60 billion, and not as part of any vindictive process by the government.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Tuesday, Rana Sanaullah said Imran has dozens of cases against him, but was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case, which pertained to money laundering of 190 million British pounds by a property tycoon. The money was supposed to be brought back to Pakistan, said the interior minister, but was rerouted towards the Al-Qadir Trust.

“According to the law, this amount rightfully belonged to the people of Pakistan,” he added, further saying that it was to be deposited in the national treasury and the UK government had contacted the Pakistani government regarding the amount’s return.

Calling it “ironic” that the apex court did not take notice of the adjustment of [such a] large amount, the interior minister gave further details of the “corruption” in the name of the Al-Qadir Trust, saying that over 458 kanals of land situated in Sohawa and another piece of land measuring 224 kanals in Banigala were registered in the name of this trust.

Rana Sanaullah said that Imran Khan and his spouse are the sole trustees of this property. He further disclosed that the 240 kanal land in Banigala was registered in the name of Farah Gogi, who is alleged to be a close confidante of the former prime minister’s wife. “The total worth of this property is around Rs5-7bn,” he said.

Sanaullah said NAB had issued notices to the PTI chief regarding the corruption cases against him and asked him to present himself and become a part of the investigation, and that there would have been no need for extensive investigations if Imran had become involved since there was documentary proof and evidence present in the cases.

The interior minister explained: “It was necessary for [Imran] to present himself and give answers but he did not do so. He challenged those notices in the high court and ultimately the high court said that the legal process in accordance with law cannot be stopped and he should become a part of the investigation and submit his response but despite that, he did not feel it appropriate to become a part of the investigation”, adding that it was “because of this NAB had to implement his arrest.”

The interior minister said the arrest had taken place in accordance with the law, adding that NAB was an independent institution and the government had no control over it, nor had it attempted to do so. “I as the interior minister can say on oath that I have never met a NAB officer nor have I taken a briefing on this case.”

Rana Sanaullah also alleged that former accountability adviser Mirza Shehzad Akbar had gotten involved in the original case involving 190 million British pounds and “an agreement was then realised, as a result of which the Al-Qadir Trust was made”. He also alleged that Akbar had taken Rs2 billion cut for his “services”.

Sanaullah said the former SAPM will be brought back to the country, adding that the government would fully facilitate NAB if the institution chose to take action against him. He said Imran’s cabinet at the time also had some responsibility in the matter and should be made part of the investigation.

As per Sanaullah: “Instead of bringing that Rs60bn amount into the national treasury, it was adjusted in the Supreme Court account of the property tycoon whose case was under trial in the apex court -- meaning his amount was returned to him.”

He said it was a “matter of shame” that when this corruption was committed, permission was taken for Shehzad Akbar to go to a UK court and give a statement on behalf of the Pakistani government for the amount to be adjusted in the property tycoon’s account, adding that “at that time he [Imran Khan] was making false corruption cases against his [political] opponents. Look at this person’s hypocrisy that when he was making false corruption cases against people, he himself was involved in such disgusting corruption that he dealt a loss of Rs60 billion to the national treasury and was getting property worth Rs6bn registered in his name.”

On Imran’s arrest, the interior minister said that he was ready to challenge all those PTI leaders condemning Imran’s arrest to provide a money trail for property bought in the Al-Qadir Trust’s name. Sanaullah reiterated that no one was subjected to torture at the time of the former PM’s arrest, saying that the PTI chief’s security personnel had inflicted violence: “The Rangers did not break the windows, they were broken during the chaotic situation”.

The interior minister said that he had instructed all the provincial chief secretaries, governments and inspector generals of police that if the PTI attempted to create a law and order situation on Imran’s arrest, then they should be “strictly” dealt with, and no permission would be granted for any roadblocks. “They have no right to do this and if anyone tries to do so, then the law will be implemented against them with its full might”.

Responding to a question, the interior minister said in categorical terms that the arrest was not part of any vindictive action against Imran, saying that “This is corruption. Documented corruption. If they ask for the documents, then they can be presented in the morning.” He added that the Toshakhana case against the PTI chief was also “proven”, saying that Imran was “committing theft” when false cases were being filed against Nawaz Sharif and his family.

Meanwhile, Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi has directed the Cabinet Standing Committee on Law and Order that the committee and the IG Police should fully monitor the law and order situation and take appropriate measures according to the situation.

Effective measures should be taken to maintain law and order in the province and the safety of people’s lives and property should be ensured. Mohsin Naqvi said that elements who take the law into their hands would be dealt with iron hands.

No one can be allowed to disrupt the daily routine of people under the guise of protest. Mohsin Naqvi said that peaceful protest is the right of everyone, but blocking roads and attacks on property cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Maintaining the atmosphere of public order is the responsibility of the state, which will be carried out efficiently, he concluded.

Meanwhile, the caretaker chief minister Punjab said in his tweet that this was not politics, it was sheer terrorism. He said that he would not spare anyone involved in the attack on the state of Pakistan.

On the other hand, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar on Tuesday said the law should be allowed to take its course and legal matters should not be settled on roads, warning that nobody would be allowed to damage public or private property.

Talking to the media, he said PTI Chairman Imran Khan was arrested as per law by executing the arrest warrants issued by the National Accountability chairman.

He said a seven-member medical board had examined Imran Khan, who would be produced before the court to seek his remand. It was up to the court to either reject or accept the request for the remand and also to determine the remand period.

As regards the reports of protests by the PTI supporters in various parts of the country, Azam Tarar said holding protests was a fundamental right of citizens, but civilized nations kept the same peaceful. He urged the people to keep their conduct as per law and the Constitution.

The law minister said Imran Khan’s arrest was not unlawful confinement while on the contrary, the opposition leaders during his government tenure faced the worst kind of political vindictiveness.

He said during the PTI rule, opposition leaders were arrested in one case and prosecuted in another one. The minister said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led coalition government had nothing to do with NAB.

It had not interfered in its affairs, rather it had streamlined the NAB laws to safeguard the rights of accused persons, he added.

Separately, Punjab Caretaker Minister for Information Aamir Mir condemned the attacks on state institutions during the protests. He strongly condemned attacks by PTI workers and said that it was open terrorism and attack on state institutions. “These are anti-national activities and fascism.”

He said the PTI leaders and workers had crossed the red line by resorting to such mischievous acts. “This is not politics but bare terrorism. These miscreants will be held accountable and for this purpose the process of identifying the miscreants involved in the attacks has started and soon all those involved in terrorist activities will be arrested,” he said.

Aamir Mir said that PTI had revealed its true face and anti-national agenda and now it was not hidden from anyone. The so-called political party was making Pakistan weak and unstable by working on a specific agenda. The Punjab information minister said that those who challenge the writ of the state will regret for life and strict measures will be taken by the government to suppress these evil elements.