ISLAMABAD: Azam Khan, the principal secretary to former prime minister Imran Khan, appeared before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on Friday to record a statement in the 190 million pound Al-Qadir Trust case.

Mr Azam, who served with the ex-prime minister for over three years, recorded his statement before a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) at NAB Rawalpindi’s office.

There was no official word about Mr Azam’s appearance before NAB, but sources confirmed that he had come to record a statement.

The appearance came two days after his alleged confession that the ex-PM retained the original cipher — sent by the Pakistan ambassador in the US and the document at the heart of the cipher probe — and didn’t return it despite repeated requests.

Ex-PM’s principal secretary asked to furnish record in Al-Qadir Trust case

The NAB had issued the notice to Mr Azam on July 20, the same day he returned home 35 days after he went missing on June 15. He was summoned to appear at 10am on Friday.

The source said NAB sought the complete record of the settlement from him and granted time to submit a written reply.

Other than Mr Azam, the ex-prime minister, Mr Khan, and his wife Bushra Bibi have also been summoned by NAB in the same case. Mr Azam was summoned earlier as well, but he had skipped the appearance on June 6.

On May 9, NAB arrested the PTI chairman in the Al-Qadir Trust case — a move that sparked violent countrywide protests by his supporters, who burnt and ransacked public and private property and stormed military installations.

The case relates to the illegal settlement of the money repatriated by the UK’s National Crime Agency and the illegal acquisition of land for the construction of Al-Qadir University.

Almost all main accused in the case have so far appeared before the NAB, except real estate tycoon Malik Riaz.

Mr Azam’s name all but vanished from mainstream media after he went missing from Islamabad. However, his alleged confession surfaced on Wednesday in which he accused his former boss of using the cipher from Pakistan’s mission in the US to gain political mileage and build an ‘anti-establishment narrative’.

A few hours after his confession was reported by the media, Mr Azam returned home as well.

The ‘unverified’ statement, supposedly recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, was lent credence by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who termed it a ‘charge sheet’ against the former premier and proposed that the Official Secrets Act be used to prosecute him.

Soon after his presser, the Federal Investigation Agency issued a notice to Mr Khan, asking him to appear before the bureau in Islamabad on July 25 in connection with the cipher probe.

Published in Dawn, July 22nd, 2023

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