Khawaja Asif blames PM for his arrest

Published December 31, 2020
Senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif appears at an accountability court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV
Senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif appears at an accountability court in Islamabad. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: Senior PML-N leader Khawaja Asif blamed Prime Minister Imran Khan for his arrest as the accountability court of Islamabad on Wednesday granted the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) his daylong transit remand.

NAB will produce Mr Khwaja before the accountability court of Lahore on Thursday (today) to get his physical remand in connection with an inquiry into “assets beyond means”.

NAB produced the former defence minister before the accountability judge Mohammad Bashir. Jahangir Khan Jadoon, counsel for Mr Khwaja, told the court that NAB Islamabad’s directorate on the complaint of Usman Dar — who had lost the 2018 election against the PML-N leader — had already probed these allegations against his client and closed the inquiry. However, he said, the matter was transferred to NAB Lahore which had issued Mr Khwaja’s arrest warrants.

NAB gets PML-N leader’s transit remand

Mr Jadoon requested the court to set aside the arrest warrant through a judicial order.

On the other hand, NAB’s prosecutor said that the application in hand sought grant of transit remand of Mr Khwaja to shift him to the court of competent jurisdiction in Lahore.

He sought four-day transit remand but Mr Khwaja’s lawyer opposed it and said as Lahore was located at four-hour drive from Islamabad, the transit remand should not be of more than a single day.

Mr Khwaja told the court that NAB had taken him into custody without informing him about the grounds for his arrest in a proper way.

He said that an unsigned paper was shown to him which the NAB officials attributed to his arrest.

The arrest warrant reads: “the inquiry conducted so far reveals sufficient evidence to prove involvement of accused Khawaja Mohammad Asif, ex Federal Minister in the commission of offences as defined under section 9(a) and Schedule of the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and Section 3 of the Anti Money Laundering Act 2010”.

It alleges that Mr Khwaja “has accumulated assets comprising land measuring 40 kanal approx in Kent Housing Society, Sialkot, commercial properties in Sialkot, two apartments in Islamabad, acquisition and disposal of various plots in Lahore, incurred huge household expenditures, repaid loans along with markup and made investments in different private firms and public limited companies all valuing Rs813 million approximately in his own name, in the name of his family members and benamidars”.

“Whereas the evidence reveals that total income of the accused including loans availed is Rs592 million from known sources from 1987 to 2018. Further, accused has received cash deposit in his bank accounts and in the bank accounts of his family members to the tune of Rs226 million approx which are prima facie unjustified,” according to the warrant.

NAB expressed apprehension that Mr Khwaja might escape and tamper with the evidence if he was not arrested.

Talking to Dawn after the court’s proceeding, Mr Khwaja said the decision of his arrest was made solely by Prime Minister Khan.

He said he had been repeatedly warned of consequences for being loyal to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and on each occasion had refused to abandon his leader.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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