ISLAMABAD, Dec 4: Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has filed a damages suit of Rs10 billion against Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) leader Khawaja Mohammad Asif for leveling allegations against the Shaukat Khanam Memorial Trust (SKMT).

While admitting the plea, Justice Mohammad Anwar Khan Kasi of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the PML-N leader and directed him to submit his reply in a fortnight.

On November 16, Sikandar Khan, an additional district and sessions judge of Islamabad, had dismissed the PTI chief’s application on the ground that under section 4 of Islamabad High Court Act 2010, the lower court could not hear civil suits worth over Rs100 million.

In the application filed with the IHC, Mr Khan’s counsel Salman Akram Raja and Malik Ghulam Sabir referred to a press conference held by the PML-N leader on August 1, 2012, in which he had alleged that Imran Khan had lost a huge amount in a real estate gamble. He said the amount had been donated to the SKMT in the form of Zakat, Fitrana and other donations.

Mr Asif had also claimed that a total of $4.5 million funds of SKMT were invested abroad. “If the investment was safe, why Mr Khan did not invest his own money in the ventures,” Mr Asif had asked, seeking a reply from Mr Khan.

The PTI chief in his plea submitted to the court contended that Mr Asif had made false statements to damage his reputation within and outside Pakistan.

It said Mr Asif during the press conference had also compared Imran Khan with ‘Double Shah’, a notorious fraudster who deprived thousands of people of their hard-earned savings on the basis of false representations. “Comparing Imran Khan to ‘Double Shah’ is the worst form of defamation,” it contended.

It also attached reports of several transactions made by SKMT and maintained that all these were made by the investment committee of the SKMT board, of which Mr Khan was a member.

It alleged that in order to defame Imran Khan and the SKMT, Mr Asif had spread false information and concealed the facts.

When contacted, Mr Asif said the PTI chief had filed the suit under political compulsions. “I still stand by my words on Mr Khan and am ready to face the litigation.”

He added: “I would produce all the evidence against Mr Khan whenever the court summons me to respond to the plea.”

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