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PESHAWAR: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday failed to appear before the National Accountability Bureau investigators here over the alleged use of the provincial government’s helicopters and sought more time for the purpose due to the ongoing election campaign.

The NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, had issued a call-up notice to the PTI chief on July 11 asking him to appear before the combined investigation team in connection with that inquiry on July 18.

He however submitted an application to the NAB, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, through a law firm, Babar Awan and Associates, asking it to fix a date for the purpose after the July 25 general elections, preferably on Aug 7.

Seeks time after elections for the purpose

The application addressed to the CIT head said, “The applicant is the head of the largest political party i.e. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, which is participating in the upcoming general elections throughout the country, and being its head, the applicant is steering its countrywide election campaign and therefore, he is unable to appear before this committee on 18th July 2018.

It is requested that an appropriate time be granted to the applicant to join the proceedings before this CIT after the general elections preferably on August 7, 2018.”

Some government servants and former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak have already appeared before the CIT regarding the same inquiry.

An official at NAB told Dawn that Mr Imran didn’t appear before the CIT on Wednesday and that the bureau would decide about the new date for his appearance on the matter.

NAB chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had taken notice of the helicopter issue few months ago when it was highlighted by a section of print and electronic media and had directed the NAB, KP, to look into the allegations leveled against PTI chief Imran Khan.

The NAB had claimed that there was a documentary evidence that Mr Imran Khan had paid Rs2.1 million for using an Mi-171 and an Ecureuil helicopter belonging to the KP government for a total of 74 hours, which amounted to Rs28,000 spent for every hour the helicopters were used.

It had insisted that had Imran Khan used a private company’s choppers, it would have cost him an hourly fare of between Rs1 million and Rs1.2 million for the Mi-171 helicopter, and between Rs0.5 million and Rs0.6 million for the Ecureuil copter.

Referring to a claim of the former principal adviser on technical training and aviation to the chief minister, the NAB had said the use of the provincial government’s helicopters could cost as much as Rs0.2 million per hour.

It is also claimed that the PTI should have paid the KP government Rs11.1 million for the purpose but the official documents mentioned the payment of Rs2.1 million only.

The chairman had also asked the director general of the NAB, KP, to find out if the provincial chief minister had the powers to hand over the ‘sensitive assets’ such as helicopters for the ‘non-governmental use’.

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018