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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Pervez Khattak testifies against Imran Khan

Before Khattak, several individuals close to the former prime minister have testified in various cases against him.

As former prime minister Imran Khan faces trial in the £190 million corruption case, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak arrived at Adiala Jail on Wednesday to testify against him before an accountability court.

Prior to parting ways with the PTI to form the now-defunct PTI-Parliamentarians ahead of the February 8 elections, Khattak was a key PTI leader and served as defense minister in Khan’s federal cabinet. He claimed that the cabinet had approved a confidential deed to transfer money, seized by the UK, to Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz.

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Before Khattak, several individuals close to the former prime minister have testified in various cases against him. His secretary Azam Khan testified in the cipher case, while another aide, Aun Chaudhry, recorded his statement in the Iddat case.

Typically, Imran Khan remains seated when witnesses give their statements. However, for Khattak, Khan stood up and approached the witness box to get a closer look at his former ally who had turned against him.

In his approximately 15-minute statement, Khattak told accountability judge Mohammad Ali Warriach about the cabinet’s approval of the confidential deed, where £190 million seized by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) as proceeds of crime were allegedly returned to the property tycoon.

The case alleges that Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi received billions of rupees and land from Bahria Town Ltd in exchange for legalizing the said amount through the federal cabinet.

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Khattak testified that he attended the December 2019 meeting where then-accountability adviser Mirza Shahzad Akbar presented the confidential deed in a sealed envelope for cabinet approval. Khattak said that when he inquired about the document, Akbar explained that it was an agreement between the Pakistani government and the NCA for the refund of crime proceeds. Despite some cabinet members’ insistence, Akbar refused to disclose the document, citing its confidentiality.

Prosecution witnesses Zubaida Jalal, Nadeem Afzal Chan, and former principal secretary Azam Khan did not appear before the court. Consequently, defense counsel Usman Riaz Gill and Zaheer Abbas did not cross-examine Khattak, stating that they would cross-examine these witnesses together as they were all related to the same evidence. The next hearing is scheduled for July 13.

‘Nothing special’

Speaking to media later, Imran Khan downplayed Khattak’s statement, saying it did not reveal “anything special.” However, Khan stated he would comment further after the cross-examination.

Khan also called for transparent elections to save Pakistan from the ongoing crisis, labeling PM Shehbaz Sharif a ‘puppet’ of the establishment. He claimed the February 8 elections were a ‘historic fraud’ and criticized the chief justice for referring the PTI case back to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

NAB appeals

Separately, Imran Khan requested the Supreme Court to dismiss the federal government’s intra-court appeal against a September 15 judgment that ruled changes to the NAB law as illegal.

In a written submission, Khan’s plea argued that the amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) were an unprecedented and egregious example of legislative manipulation. On June 6, a five-judge Supreme Court bench headed by CJP Qazi Faez Isa reserved its ruling on the federal government’s appeal against the September 15 majority judgment.

Khan asserted that if the NAB is abusing its authority and powers, as it did in the Toshakhana case, the NAO should be reformed to prevent such abuses. He cited the NAB case against him as a glaring example of abuse, explaining that a necklace worth Rs18 million was falsely declared as being worth Rs3.18 billion, leading to an unjust case. Instead of abolishing or weakening NAB, Khan argued that its mandate should be strengthened to prevent abuse of power.