ISLAMABAD: Days after a report in British daily the Financial Times revealed that incarcerated Abraaj Group chief Arif Naqvi bankrolled the PTI, Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musadik Malik on Saturday termed the party chief Imran Khan an “abettor” in the $250 million money-laundering scam while PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair dared Mr Khan to “come clean” and challenge the news story in a court.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Malik, without naming anyone, questioned a decision by the Supreme Court in 2018 that had declared the PTI chairman “honest and truthful” in a disqualification case against him.

The PML-N leader said Imran Khan was the “guarantor” of Arif Naqvi, chief executive of the Abraaj Group who was indicted by US prosecutors in a range of cases and faces up to 291 years in jail if found guilty. Dr Malik claimed that Mr Khan was the “abettor” in a $250 million money laundering case.

“How can people like Imran Khan be declared sadiq (truthful) and amin (honest),” he questioned, linking the former premier with the Abraaj scam. According to the minister, Nawaz Sharif, on the other hand, was disqualified for life for not “taking anything from the company of his son”.

Musadik Malik questions 2018 decision to declare PTI chief ‘sadiq’ and ‘amin’

The minister said the $250 million money-laundering scam amounted to a quarter of the IMF’s $1.1 billion tranche to Pakistan, expected to be released in August. “How could an abettor and protector of this illegal activity be declared sadiq and amin?” he wondered.

In a further swipe at Mr Khan, he said Mr Khan lived in a “200-300 kanals’ house in Banigala”, but he claimed that he had no income source despite his “luxurious lifestyle”.

He said Arif Naqvi was the person who, being the chief executive of a foreign company, established a cricket club abroad and sent funds to the PTI, adding that these funds were illegal as per Pakistani laws.

As per the law of the land, he said, no political party could get funds from anyone other than Pakistani citizens and if anyone received finances from a foreign national or company, it would be “black and illegal money”.

Separately, PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair said this was a moment for PTI chief Imran Khan to “come clean” by accounting for his party’s funds and challenging the Financial Times story in court.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Saturday, Mr Zubair also urged the Supreme Court to take suo motu notice and summon Mr Khan in the eight-year-long prohibited funding case, of which the news story was a “small part”.

Dr Malik and Mr Zubair’s statements are the latest in a string of criticism of the PTI over the prohibited funding case and demands by the ruling coalition for the case’s closure.

Mr Khan has defended the funding from Mr Naqvi and said that all the funds came through banking channels and were disclosed in the party’s audited accounts.

Financial Times report

In his report published on Thursday, Simon Clark — the author of The Key Man, a book exposing the dealings of business tycoon Arif Naqvi — revealed how funds collected through charity cricket matches were used for the rise of PTI.

The report said fees were paid to Wootton Cricket Ltd, which, despite the name, was in fact a Cayman Islands-incorporated company owned by Naqvi and the money was being used to bankroll the PTI.

Funds poured into Wootton Cricket from companies and individuals, including at least £2m from a UAE government minister who is also a member of the Abu Dhabi royal family.

Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2022

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