ISLAMABAD: Bahria Town Chairman Malik Riaz on Sunday claimed that he was being pressured for “political motives”, but asserted that he would not bow before anyone.

In a message on X, formerly Twitter, the real estate tycoon said he had been pushed to the wall and was facing constant losses in his business.

But he did not mention who was pressuring him, and for what.

The real estate tycoon is known for his links with political parties, the media, as well as the civil and military establishment, and has been considered ‘untouchable’ in the past.

Dawn contacted a number of political experts and politicians, but nearly everyone was reluctant to comment on his ‘sad tale’, saying he had not disclosed who he was holding responsible for his woes, and the reason why he was being pressured.

However, it is widely believed that Malik Riaz was referring to Al Qadir Trust/University case, which was filed by NAB against PTI founder Imran Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi. They were the main accused in the £190 million corruption case. The case alleges that while PM, Imran Khan and his spouse obtained land spread over hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town Ltd to legalise Rs50 billion, which was identified and returned to the country by the UK authorities.

On Jan 9, an accountability court froze the properties of five co-accused in the case, including Malik Riaz and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, who were declared proclaimed offenders for failing to join investigations.

At present, the real estate tycoon is believed to be out of the country.

In his message on X, Malik Riaz said: “All my life, Allah has always guided me to stand by my principle of not taking any political side or being used by one party against the other. For over a year now, I’ve been under immense pressure to compromise, but I’ll never allow anyone to use me as a pawn for political motives.”

This, he claimed, had been a recurring pattern of victimisation against him and his business for introducing state-of-the-art projects in Pakistan.

“From 1996 till today, I’ve been ‘punished’ for contributing towards the progress of the country. I have faced such pressures in the past with absolute grit and strength. Even today, in a personal capacity, I can say with utmost certainty, ‘over my dead body’”, he added.

“Despite my ailing condition and distress, I’m standing firm in the face of this adversity, bearing financial business loss daily and being pushed to the wall completely, but will not surrender to any pressure tactics. Allah will guide and help me through this tough phase with dignity,” he said.

Reacting to the tycoon’s statement, former president and PTI leader Arif Alvi asserted that the pressure cooker will ‘burst one of these days’.

“And who will suffer the damage? Not those who have ensured escape routes to foreign countries, but us loyal Pakistanis who have decided to live and die in our country,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

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