PESHAWAR/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has hailed Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to the Taliban to hold negotiations and recognise them as a legitimate political entity.

“I am happy that President Ghani has not only offered amnesty to the Taliban, but has also invited them to open their office in Afghanistan,” he said while talking to the media at the Chief Minister House in Peshawar on Thursday after attending a meeting of the PTI’s parliamentary committee to discuss strategy for the Senate elections.

He said that the Afghan government had finally realised that negotiations were the only option to end civil war in the country.

President Ghani made the offers to the Taliban during an international conference in Kabul on Wednesday.

Hopes six PTI candidates will be elected to Senate

“When I urged our government to hold talks with the local Taliban and offered them to set up an office in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, I was called Taliban Khan,” said the PTI chief while recalling his proposal to hold talks with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Imran Khan had opposed the military action against the TTP and called for dialogue with them in early 2014. At that time the KP government had offered the TTP to open an office in the province to facilitate talks between the federal government and the militant outfit.

The PTI chief said Pakistan had been isolated (in the international community) due to its flawed foreign policy and inefficiency of the government.

He said Pakistan’s relations with its neighbours, excluding China, had strained. Even Saudi Arabia had supported the US case against Pakistan at a recent meeting of the FATF, he added.

He said Iran had threatened to move the international arbitration court over Pakistan’s unilateral act of shelving the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project.

Senate polls

The meeting of the PTI parliamentary party on the Senate polls was attended by KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak, the provincial ministers and the party’s MPAs.

Sources said that four expelled MPAs of the party, including Qurban Ali Khan, Javed Nasim and Amjad Afridi, were absent from the meeting. Qurban Ali Khan told Dawn that he was not invited to the meeting.

On the other hand, three dissident MPAs of the Pakistan Muslim League-N, the Quami Watan Party and the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F attended the meeting, the sources said.

Imran Khan told the media that the PTI MPAs were expected to get six candidates of the party elected in the Senate elections.

He said that the existing system of indirect election of the Senate was faulty as because of it candidates had started open bidding for purchasing loyalties of MPAs.

PTI seeks money laundering case against minister

Expressing concern over what it called a delay in launching an investigation into alleged financial wrongdoing by Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif, the PTI says it has provided evidences to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to help it proceed against the minister.

A party spokesman in Islamabad said that PTI deputy secretary general Usman Dar had sent a second letter to NAB on Thursday, demanding opening of a money laundering case against the minister.

The PTI leader raised 13 questions regarding alleged money laundering committed by the minister.

“Many documentary evidences of corruption of Khawaja Asif are available and, therefore, NAB is requested to immediately start investigation against him,” the letter said.

Mr Dar claimed that the minister had admitted that he was also an iqama holder and involved in money laundering. “Khawaja Asif has also been accused of concealing his offshore assets from the Election Commission of Pakistan,” he said.

He claimed that Mr Asif was getting a monthly salary of Rs1.6 million from an Abu Dhabi-based firm.

The PTI spokesman said that the letter also carried details of Mr Asif’s offshore firm and business.

“Millions of rupees are being deposited in a foreign bank account of Mr Asif who also uses a foreign bank account of his wife to receive heavy amounts,” he alleged. “The minister has not declared his and his wife’s foreign bank accounts to the ECP.”

Published in Dawn, March 2nd, 2018