ISLAMABAD, Aug 1: With general elections not far way, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) fired a broadside on Wednesday at what is presumed to be its main challenger, the resurgent Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf of Imran Khan.
Speaking at a news conference, PML-N leader Khwaja Asif accused Mr Khan of committing “money-laundering” and gambling on charity funds meant for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital (SKMH).
The charge was immediately rebutted by Mr Khan who said at a news conference that the unfounded allegations would harm poor patients receiving free treatment at the hospital.
The PTI chief termed the accusations an attempt to malign the SKMH which, he said, could affect charity work in the country.
He said the PML-N wanted to damage the SKMH funding. It had carried out a similar campaign before the 1997 elections, he added.
Khwaja Asif alleged that Mr Khan had invested Zakat funds collected in the name of SKMH in the speculative real estate market and offshore companies.
Accompanied by PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid, he also accused Imran Khan of using Zakat collections for personal gains and investing around Rs630 million in offshore companies which were lost. He also accused the PTI chief of “gambling” $12.5 million in the real estate abroad.
The PML-N leader said the so-called ‘tsunami’ had turned into ‘badnami’. He said he was releasing details of ‘wrongdoings’ of Mr Khan on the basis of information available on the website of his hospital which showed that the charity money was being used in investment abroad.
Khwaja Asif also alleged that Mr Khan had assets and money abroad.
The PTI chief said the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital was not his personal hospital and 75 per cent of its patients were poor Pakistanis.
He said by defaming the cancer hospital Khwaja Asif would cause problems for poor Pakistanis.
Mr Khan said: “The endowment fund is set up from the money that comes from foreign donors and is meant for investment and our fund of $30 million is a guaranteed amount and contains not a single penny from Shaukat Khanum’s Zakat fund.”
He threatened to sue the PML-N leaders if they continued such attacks and said: “I am accusing Nawaz Sharif of engaging in money-laundering and he should take me to court,” he challenged.
The PTI chief said the board of directors of Shaukat Khanum Hospital had already taken PML-N legislator Hanif Abbasi to court for accusing them of taking bribe and “appealed to courts to decide the case early to unmask faces behind such conspiracies”.
He said he would be attending Sheikh Rashid’s public meeting on August 13 and that there were no differences in his party over the issue.
PTI leaders Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Naeemul Haq, Shafqat Mehmood, Jehangir Tareen and Fauzia Kasuri and a large number of women wing leaders were present at the press conference.