Panama Papers JIT serving as PML-N's 'election cell', Qadri claims

Published June 11, 2017
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri speaks to reporters at Lahore airport upon his return from Canada.
PAT chief Tahirul Qadri speaks to reporters at Lahore airport upon his return from Canada.

Prominent cleric and head of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Tahirul Qadri, in his return to Pakistan on Sunday, alleged that the joint investigation team (JIT) probing allegations of money laundering against the Sharif family is working as an 'election cell' for the ruling PML-N.

Qadri, who spoke to reporters at Lahore airport upon his arrival from Canada, claimed that the criticisms that have been levelled against the JIT by Hussain Nawaz and two other witnesses, are all part of a "plot".

"This criticism is a plot. Through their criticism, the JIT will be shown to be neutral," he claimed.

Qadri elaborated that the PML-N will plan its election campaign around the decision of the JIT, which consists of "servants of the ruling party".

"When a [favourable] decision comes, they (the PML-N) will say it was made despite the allegations made [against the JIT]," Qadri alleged.

The prime minister’s elder son, his cousin Tariq Shafi and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) president Saeed Ahmad have accused the JIT of mistreatment.

Hussain, who has appeared before the JIT five times, submitted an application before the Supreme Court earlier this week after his photograph during a proceeding was leaked to social media. He alleged that the JIT has been pressurizing every witness that has appeared before it to change their statements, and had allegedly tried to implicate specific persons in wrongdoing under threat of arrest, prosecution and long-term incarceration.

Shafi and Ahmad claimed they were made to wait for long hours at Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) before the JIT's proceedings began. Shafi also claimed that he was continuously intimidated, browbeat and harassed by a member of the JIT.

"This JIT will prepare their (PML-N's) election campaign for them, they will create slogans based on the JIT's decision," Qadri claimed on Sunday.

A large number of party supporters had gathered at Lahore airport early morning to welcome the PAT chief who returned to Pakistan after eight months.

On Aug 14, 2014, Qadri, a religious scholar and founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran, an organisation which aims to promote peace by educating young minds about classical Islamic sciences joined Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in an anti-government protest that lasted for 126 days.

He also spearheaded a four-day anti-government protest that ended after he struck a deal with the government.

He has been living in Canada since 2005 where he also acquired Canadian citizenship. Dr Qadri has said he can more effectively manage his international network from the North American country.

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