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Published Aug 03, 2012 02:42am


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WITH both vying for the same space and the same slice of the electorate, the PML-N and the PTI were always going to find ways to attack each other. On Wednesday, it was Khwaja Asif’s turn to fire the latest PML-N salvo against the PTI chief, Imran Khan. Armed with a sheaf of documents and a series of seemingly hard-hitting accusations against the fund managers of Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, Mr Asif tried to poke a hole in Imran Khan’s self-styled reputation as a clean politician with no financial skeletons in his closet. PTI supporters reacted with outrage to Khwaja Asif’s allegations and dismissed them as an ugly attempt to drag a charitable institution into disrepute. There is an inconvenient truth, however, for the PTI: the Shaukat Khanum hospital is a central plank of Imran Khan’s political platform.

With a non-existent record of public service in government, Mr Khan has long held the hospital he set up as an example of why he is qualified to run Pakistan. In Mr Khan’s telling, Shaukat Khanum hospital is a symbol of his commitment to the people’s welfare and his resolve to handle large finances transparently and professionally. So if his political opponents probe into the affairs of Shaukat Khanum and find something amiss, it is unrealistic to expect them to keep their suspicions or allegations out of the public arena. How are funds for the hospital raised, does the fund-raising comply with Pakistani and the relevant foreign laws, and are the funds invested in a way that is both legal and ethical given their purpose are all questions that Shaukat Khanum’s administrators ought to answer in full. Particularly since the PTI routinely accuses every other party of financial malfeasance and corruption, the party should set the bar higher for transparency and openness. It is worth noting that to date the PTI has provided no meaningful information about who has sponsored and paid for the massive rallies the party has held in all four provinces of the country.

Nevertheless, Khwaja Asif’s fulminations against the PTI should also be treated with caution — not because the allegations are necessarily false but because there is a risk that as the elections draw nearer, political opponents will descend into an ugly free-for-all that could damage the democratic project itself. The PPP has long been a victim of dirty tricks, as has Imran Khan himself owing to his colourful past. The PML-N — no shrinking violets there, clearly — can also suffer similar attacks. Perhaps party leaders need to informally declare certain areas off limits for criticism; or else, perhaps the ECP could have a role to play?

Comments (15) Closed

babar Aug 03, 2012 07:37am
Dr Imran Ahmed Aug 03, 2012 06:41pm
Balanced article. Yet I still feel that attacking a charitable cancer hospital at a time of fund raising is going to hurt poor cancer victims far more than any electoral gain to PMLN. Khwaja Asif has raised questions without proving any crime or misappropriation of charity funds. The PMLN stance is amoral.
Keti Zilgish Aug 03, 2012 07:36am
The worship of wealth & dignity is the problem, not who owns them!
W Q Aug 03, 2012 01:32pm
Isn't it a good chance for IK to prove it runs flawlessly as he claims
Red Aug 03, 2012 01:28pm
What a one sided article. Looks like the dawn group has also been sponsored by the PML N
Imran Aug 03, 2012 11:33am
U M Aug 03, 2012 09:37am
As you believe the allegations are not 'necessarily false', could you please help N-league gather evidence instead of making intellectual pronouncements?
Asif Ansari Aug 03, 2012 08:52pm
We know PML-N and PTI both are against with each other. These parties fighting not close before the time of coming election. PML-N new blame against Imran Khan is a junk. Both parties shouting to another, and PPP see the drama, ECP check the blame against Imran Khan. Nobody can feel by outside the law. Everybody play his/her game in the line of decided laws. People of Pakistan is know everything, they are not totally fool.
musawar Aug 03, 2012 09:46pm
I think both parties should b investigated transparently... rather than reply each other with SALVO. Imran khan isn't Massiah actually nor the PML-n but the fact is that atleas there should b some irregularties which IK had opt for his big rallies MAY B!!
Sayed haider Aug 03, 2012 10:41pm
Dawn in its recent editorials been quite bias. Editorials when biased have the opposit effect. You can not sway public opinion when colored by your political leanings. Keep it clean and argue for both sides with verifiable facts
Liberal Pakistani Aug 04, 2012 01:35am
While the PML(N) is no band of angels themselves, it is also time for the Tsunaami to give some answers to the nation now!
kashmiri Aug 04, 2012 09:45am
Both parties will suffer if this attitude continues and the beneficiary will be PPP
abubakarumer Aug 06, 2012 07:35am
It shouldn't be a taboo to question about the donation money lost ? Its public money & everyone has the right to ask including khawaja asif. Unfortunately, the answer from Imran Khan never came ...
Bilal Aug 06, 2012 11:14am
As Khan has pointed many many times at the hospital as his ability to run something, he was the first one to politicize it not the opponents, once you do it people will bring it to public domain no turning back.
ASAD BHATTI Aug 08, 2012 07:34am
Imran Khan should have never politicize his philanthropic works. As it steps in the arena of politics it can not abstain from the mud and the dirt of politics. Besides if Imran Khan thinks that running a hospital is equivalent to running a country, he is totally wrong. If criteria would be set as such then majority of the votes should be to EDHI.