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Imran insisted on approving £190m recovery summary without discussion: ex-minister

December 10, 2023

ISLAMABAD: Former federal minister Zubaida Jalal has revealed that Imran Khan’s cabinet members had recommended an investigation into the £190 million recovery, but the former prime minister, while chairing the meeting, insisted on granting approval without further discussion/deliberation.

Zubaida Jalal recorded her statement before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) team probing the £190 million National Crime Agency (NCA), United Kingdom, settlement case.

Former federal minister Zubaida Jalal. — National Assembly of Pakistan website
Former federal minister Zubaida Jalal. — National Assembly of Pakistan website

According to sources, Zubaida Jalal stated that she insisted during the cabinet meeting that the matter in hand involved state money and well-informed decisions after proper deliberation.

She stated that after insistence from Imran, the agenda was approved without going into further details. “Few other participants/ attendants of the said meeting also pointed out the same scenario,” she was quoted as saying in the NAB report.

The report said that Zubaida Jalal was of the opinion that 190 million British pounds was an asset of Pakistan and should be returned, and most of the members of the cabinet said that they should talk about taking the amount back.

According to the NAB report: “The record seized from Ministry of Foreign Affairs reveals that at the time of approval of prime minister for placement of Note (and annexed Confidentiality Deed) before the cabinet, accused Shahzad Akbar had illegally, without any authority and with knowledge and blessing of co-accused Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi, already signed and submitted Deed of Confidentiality to NCA on 06-11-2019 on behalf of Government of Pakistan. Accused Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, Expert ARU, had also signed on Confidentiality deed as a witness by blatantly misusing his authority.”

The investigation report stated that the discretion used by Imran by including the case directly into the cabinet after a personal meeting with Shahzad Akbar coupled with the fact that the Confidentiality Deed was signed and submitted before the cabinet meeting established that both the accused persons were in haste to conceal their crime/ wrongdoings.

It is pertinent to mention here that as per Rules of the Business, 1973, rule 3(3) states: “The business of government shall be distributed among the divisions in the manner indicated in Schedule II.”

The report stated that the accused persons intentionally and maliciously neither consulted nor processed the case through the Law and Justice Division in written violation of the Rules of Business 1973.

The NAB list of 59 witnesses in the £190 million settlement case reference also includes three members of Imran’s cabinet, Nadeem Afzal Chan, Pervez Khattak, and Zubaida Jalal. However, Chan said that he would not stand as a witness against any politician in the court.

The name of the ex-principal secretary, Azam Khan, is also included as a witness, while other witnesses include bank and SECP officers, Patwari, Assets Recovery Unit secretary and deputy secretary, and Al-Qadir Trust executive director and chief financial officer.

The NAB spokesperson did not respond to The News queries to confirm the list.

Talking to The News, Chan said he had seen reports on social media that he would be a witness against Imran Khan. He said that NAB had sent him a notice twice, just like other cabinet members, and, being a law-abiding person, he appeared before the Bureau and told them all what he knew as a part of the cabinet of that time.

“I was Special Assistant to the PM but not part of the cabinet and attended the cabinet meeting as a special invitee. I used to tell Khan Sahib that Shahzad Akbar was a fraud and will stab you in the back. I used to say it when Imran Khan was in power while the people are now saying it when he was not in power,” he said.

He said now Imran was in jail and he does not talk about those in jail or are ill. “Whatever I knew I told NAB, but if anyone asks me to give testimony in courts, I will never be ready for it as I was not a member of the cabinet, and will not testify against any politician,” he said, adding that it was his philosophy.