ISLAMABAD: As the imminent lockdown of the federal capital by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Pakistan is looming large, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have stepped up their rhetoric against PTI chief Imran Khan.

A member of the federal cabinet on Sunday levelled allegation of money laundering, tax evasion and non-declaration of assets against Mr Khan.

Chairman of Privatisation Commission Mohammad Zubair, who enjoys the status of minister of state, addressed a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID), the usual venue for pressers convened by ministers to give a response to allegations hurled by PTI leaders.

This time Mr Zubair came with “documentary proof” of Mr Khan’s alleged wrongdoings. He said the PTI chief had sent money to the United Kingdom and purchased a flat in London in 1983 for 20,000 pounds and added that: “Mr Khan hid his offshore company for over 33 years.”

“It is astonishing that Mr Khan is levelling allegations of money laundering against the prime minister while he himself has not even declared his assets for a long time,” he said.

He claimed that Mr Khan had laundered his black money under a scheme introduced by former military ruler retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

He claimed that the PTI chief after purchasing his Bani Gala property had transferred it to the name of his former wife, Jemima Goldsmith, who later transferred the property back to Mr Khan as a gift.

“Now, Mr Khan is not paying any tax on this property worth millions of rupees on the pretext that it was a gift and thus is exempted from any tax,” he added.

Answering a question about the PTI’s call for the lockdown of Islamabad on Nov 2, Mr Zubair said the move would not only cause problems for government employees and functionaries, but also for the students.

He said he had sent evidence against Mr Khan to “relevant quarters” and would soon move the Supreme Court in this regard.

‘Political suicide bomber’

Separately, PPP’s Saeed Ghani criticised Mr Khan for his statement in which he has tried to absolve himself of any responsibility for possible damage to the country’s democratic system due to his protest.

Describing him as a “political suicide bomber”, the senator said that the PTI chief had always opted for solo flight on national issues, adding that his current path would not only destroy his own party, but the whole system.

“Mr Khan cannot say that he will not be responsible if democracy is affected by his protest and siege of Islamabad,” he said.

The PPP leader said the PTI chief had every right to protest, but besieging Islamabad or any other city, for that matter, was not right. “Mr Khan has no contingency plan if his adventure goes wrong and does not achieve the desired result,” he added.

He asked the government to accept four demands put forward by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari to defuse the current political crisis.

The PPP leader was of the view that Mr Khan’s bubble would burst the moment the government fulfilled the demands made by the PPP chairman.

“Mr Khan lacks political maturity and thinks that the PTI is the only opposition party,” he said.

Amjad Mahmood adds from Lahore: Terming the PTI’s call for the Islamabad lockdown unconstitutional and undemocratic, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has pledged to play his role against “proponents of chaos”.

During a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Lahore on Sunday, the JUI-F chief said Nawaz Sharif was an elected prime minister and his party would resist any “undemocratic” move against him.

He criticised the PTI chief’s remarks that only the prime minister would be responsible if a ‘third power’ steps in as a result of the Nov 2 protest.

The chief of JUI-F, which is an ally of the ruling PML-N in the federal government, didn’t see any “political or moral justification” for coming on roads on the Panama Papers issue after the opposition took it to the judiciary.

Published in Dawn October 24th, 2016

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