PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday defended Farah Khan, a close aide of his wife Bushra Bibi as “absolutely innocent” as he described the corruption inquiry against her as a “political vendetta” against him.
His remarks come days after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated an inquiry against her for allegedly possessing “illegal assets beyond known sources of income, money laundering, and maintaining various accounts in the name of businesses”.
According to a statement, NAB said a “huge turnover amounting to Rs847 million has been found in [Farah Khan’s] account during the last three years, which does not commensurate with (sic) her stated account profile,” NAB said in a statement.
“I want to ask NAB: the case that you have opened against Farah Khan — show it to anyone. Does this even merit a case?,” he asked in a response to a question during a press conference in Islamabad, where he read out points of his party’s white paper on the ruling coalition’s graft cases.
“First they (NAB) say she has wealth beyond known sources of income. This only applies to public office holders. Was she ever an MNA or a public office holder? She has been working in real estate for the past 20 years,” he said.
Imran added that the NAB said her assets saw a significant increase in three years. “Just check and see how much real estate has made money [for people] — it is the most in Pakistan’s history. Ask the ones in real estate how much money they’ve made. But it is no crime.”
“It is the same case that Jemima faced regarding alleged smuggling of tiles. Her only fault that she was my wife,” Imran said, adding that the only reason for that case was because of her connection to him.
“She (Farah) is absolutely innocent. I want her to have the opportunity [to defend herself]. A proper hearing should be conducted.”
Turning his guns on the incumbent rulers, he expressed apprehensions that the record of corruption cases against the ruling coalition members would “disappear” soon.
Imran termed what he said was the government’s move to quash graft cases against itself and coalition members as “NRO 2”, warning the current rulers would “resume laundering money abroad to further dent the national economy”.
“The imported government has been imposed on us and they are going to start the corruption business once again,” he alleged.
The ex-premier mentioned the FIA cases against the “two families”, and regretted the “justice system of Pakistan could not take those cases to its logical conclusion”.
He called the case against himself and his party leaders for Masjid-e-Nabwi incident as “foolish”. He reiterated that those leaders would be treated in the same manner in elsewhere in the world.
“They do not understand the rage of Pakistanis against them.”
Imran said the government should be ashamed of accusing him and his associates of planning the incident of Masjid-e-Nabwi. He also condemned the “treatment” meted out to Sheikh Rashid’s nephew.
The Chief Election Commissioner
In response to a question, Imran reiterated his criticism of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, saying his party has “no confidence” in him. He alleged that the CEC “left no chance to victimise” the PTI
“We believe he (CEC) influenced the courts… when it was about to make its decision [on early elections]. He said to the courts that it would take six to seven months to conduct elections.
“The courts should have — at the moment — dismissed him and bring a new chief election commissioner. Because according to the Constitution, elections have to be called within 90 days when they are announced.”
Imran was referring to the Supreme Court hearing of April 7, in which Raja told the court elections could not be held in 90 days because the ECP had to conduct delimitation, which would take time. Raja told the court that the commission would take a minimum of four months to conduct the delimitation and another 90 days for the general elections.
The CEC had informed the court that he personally wrote 16 letters to the then PTI government from May 2020 to 2021 seeking permission to conduct the delimitation but the government was interested in carrying out a digital census.
Confronting the ‘mafia’
In response to a question, Imran said the nation must not forget his party was confronting the “mafia”.
The former prime minister said the public would demonstrate its reaction against the incumbent government in the last week of May.
To a question, Imran said his march on Islamabad will be the “biggest ever” in the history of Pakistan.