LAHORE: As Punjab is heading towards a political showdown between the PTI/PML-Q and PDM on the issue of the chief minister’s trust vote, the latter (PML-N-led coalition) has placed the names of Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s family members on the no-fly list in connection with a fresh money laundering probe, opened against them by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The PML-Q is seeing this as a last-ditch effort by the federal coalition ‘in collaboration with the powerful circles’ to put CM Elahi and his son Moonis Elahi under pressure on the issue of dissolution of the Punjab Assembly and forcing them to say goodbye to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and join hands with the PDM.

The interior ministry has reportedly placed the names of Parvez Elahi’s wife, Moonis Elahi’s wife, Rasikh Elahi and his wife on the exit control list (ECL). Similarly, the FIA issued notices to the family members of Mr Elahi in connection with a fresh ‘money laundering’ probe against them.

In a related development, a close friend of Moonis Elahi was also picked up by plainclothes men (of intelligence agencies).

Moonis’ friend picked up by plainclothes men; PML-Q sees fresh action as ‘pressure tactic’ over PA dissolution plan

“The PML-N coalition government is trying its best to force my family to stop supporting Imran Khan. It has not only initiated another investigation against us through FIA but also placed the names of my mother, my wife, my brother (Rasikh) and his wife on the ECL,” Moonis Elahi told Dawn by phone from abroad.

He said the government [in a desperate move] might place his and his father’s names on ECL in days to come. Such actions would not help change “our loyalty towards Mr Khan and shake hands with the PDM,” he declared.

In a tweet, Mr Moonis said: “Some people picked up a friend of mine from his residence in two black Vigo champs. After some time he will be handed over to the FIA and pressure be exerted on it for registration of case against him. Why don’t you understand that we do not have to join the PDM.”

Prime minister’s special assistant on interior affairs Attaullah Tarar did not deny nor confirm to Dawn about placing the names of Mr Elahi’s family members on the ECL.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) last month had suspended Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman’s order of de-notifying the chief minister, restoring Parvez Elahi and his cabinet on the assurance that the provincial assembly will not be dissolved, at least until the next date of hearing — Jan 11.

Although the PTI wanted Mr Elahi to take vote of trust from the PA ahead of Jan 11, the latter insisted that doing so would be tantamount to accepting that the governor’s order was legal. The PTI is hopeful that after Jan 11, CM Elahi will manage to secure the required 186 votes in the house while the PDM thinks otherwise.

On the other hand, the FIA Lahore has issued notices to some family members of Parvez Elahi inquiring about the financial transactions into their accounts connected with a prime suspect Qaisar (a Punjab Assembly peon) and three others.

According to the FIA, the State Bank of Pakistan has detected some transactions involving a huge amount of money in the bank accounts of Qaisar and three others. “And some amount has been transferred to the family members of Mr Elahi,” an official said and added notices had been issued to them (Chaudhry family members) to inquire about these transactions.

Moonis Elahi contested the notices saying the FIA picked up the stuff from the money laundering FIR which of late was quashed by the LHC. “Qaiser has given a statement to the FIA that he is a nominee for Wajid Bhatti (one of the accused in the quashed FIR). Similarly, Wajid had also given a statement in this regard. All transactions between Qaiser and my family members are reflected in their returns and are legal, showing this is yet another case of political victimisation,” the former minister for water resources said.

The LHC had quashed the money laundering FIR in connection with the sugar scam against Mr Moonis in October. The case was instituted soon after the PML-N-led coalition took over in April and Mr Elahi family chose to side with Mr Khan.

Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2023

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