ISLAMABAD, MAY 23: PTI Chairman Imran Khan arrived at the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) office in Islamabad on Tuesday afternoon to join the investigation of charges against him linked to the Al Qadir Trust case.
The case alleges that the former premier and his wife obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town Ltd for legalising Rs50 billion, which was later identified and returned to the country by the UK during the tenure of the PTI government.
A video shared by the PTI on its official Twitter account showed tight security outside the accountability watchdog’s office.
Imran was whisked away from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises by paramilitary forces in connection with the case on May 9, leading to violent protests across the country.
The PTI chief had immediately approached the high court for release but it had declared his arrest legal. However, following the Supreme Court’s verdict of the arrest being unlawful, he was released.
Meanwhile, earlier today, an accountability court granted bail to Imran’s wife, Bushra Bibi, in the same case until May 31.
After Imran’s arrival, the NAB’s Combined Investigation Team (CIT) gave the PTI chief a questionnaire pertaining to the case.
The questionnaire, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, seeks answers to the following questions:
In December 2019, why was a summary prepared for the approval of the return of illegal money from the UK?
In December 2019, why was the approval for surrendering the return of illegal money from the UK given?
Why was the land for Al Qadir University and other monetary benefits taken from the suspect in return?
Why was the power abused while sitting in the highest public office role?
Why were monetary benefits obtained from the suspects by abusing power?
Why was a criminal act committed by returning the illegal amount from the UK to the suspects?
Why were the letters and correspondence with the British National Crime Agency kept secret?
Why was the summary for the East Recovery Unit kept secret?
Babar Awan terms Al-Qadir Trust case a ‘propaganda stunt’
On the other hand, PTI lawyer Babar Awan has said that the Al-Qadir Trust case was a “propaganda stunt”.
“The new NAB law states that unless somebody gets ill-gotten money in their pockets, only then can action be taken against them,” he told media persons outside the accountability bureau’s office. “There is no case, this is just a persecution.”
Awan claimed that PTI workers across the country were all jailed in fake cases. “So we fight for the democracy, rule of law and upholding the Constitution in the country.”
Responding to questions regarding the NAB investigation today, the lawyer said that the government should apologise to Imran and Bushra Bibi.
Islamabad ATC grants Imran bail in FJC violence cases
Earlier today, an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad approved Imran’s bail plea in eight cases — pertaining to the violence at the Judicial Complex — till June 8.
As the hearing began, Imran’s counsel informed the court that there were a total of eight cases filed against his client and that Imran had recorded his statements in all of them.
Expressing readiness to answer any further questions, Barrister Safdar, the counsel for the PTI chief, requested the court to allow him to present arguments for all the cases on the same day.
The court suggested that the lawyer could present arguments for “at least one case.” Safdar responded by highlighting that Imran was also required to appear before an accountability court on the same day, indicating time constraints.
He requested the court to allow him to present arguments on the following day and permit Imran to participate in the investigation within the courtroom premises, similar to a previous allowance granted by a Lahore ATC.
In response to Safdar’s statements, the prosecutor expressed dissatisfaction, noting that Imran had not appeared before the investigating officer despite being ordered to do so by the Islamabad High Court. Additionally, the prosecutor mentioned that Imran had also failed to appear before the JIT that had been formed.
The prosecutor provided details of the dates on which Imran had been summoned but did not comply. In response, the judge remarked, “Did you not see that you were given the directive to go to Imran?” The judge then asked the prosecutor if he had provided the investigation questionnaire to the former premier.
Subsequently, the prosecutor requested the court to order Imran to participate in the investigation process regarding the cases.
Barrister Safdar stated that he had prepared the statements, but there was a lack of interest in accepting them. In response, the judge inquired about the progress made by the JIT established for cases filed in Punjab. The lawyer replied that the JIT had visited Imran’s residence in Zaman Park to facilitate his participation in the investigation.
Judge Abbas subsequently inquired about the preferred method for Imran to participate in the investigation, prompting the prosecutor to state that he wanted Imran to comply by appearing when summoned.
The judge then questioned why the prosecutor had not recorded Imran’s statements during his period of police custody at the Police Lines office. In response, the prosecutor explained that Imran was under the custody of the NAB during that time.
Judge Abbas made a remark, saying, “Custody is custody. What does this even mean?” He further asked the prosecutor why he had not approached the court for permission to record the ex-PM’s statement while he was in custody.
Every time I step out of my home, I put my life at risk: Imran
During the ATC hearing today, Imran informed the court about the threats to his life, stating: “An assassination attempt was made. The second one took place at the judicial complex.”
He further expressed concerns about his safety, saying, “Every time I step out of my home, I put my life at risk. The interior minister has acknowledged the danger to my life, and I believe there is a threat.”
Imran added, “In Lahore, the JIT came to my house and conducted investigations there. We cooperated with them. I only request that I be included in the investigation, similar to what the Lahore High Court has allowed.”
The court inquired if the JIT was present in the courtroom, to which the prosecutor responded that they were not. Judge Abbas commented, “This shows their lack of seriousness. If they were serious, they would have been present here. At least someone from the JIT should have been present.”
The ATC then summoned the JIT to appear within thirty minutes and provide information to the court regarding how they intended to record Imran’s statement.
Subsequently, the court extended bail for the former premier in the cases until June 8.
Imran has already stated that he sees “80 per cent chances” of his arrest when he will be in the capital for his court hearings.
During a session on Twitter Spaces last night, however, Imran called on his supporters to remain peaceful in case he is taken into custody. “I urge people to remain peaceful because if you get violent, they will get a chance to crack down again. We have to always protest peacefully,” he said.
The PTI chairman claimed the chances of his arrest were “high” even though he had secured bail in all cases. “I have all the bails required but the situation is such that they can arrest me again,” he said.
He added that peaceful protest was a fundamental right and nobody could stop people from organising a non-violent demonstration, even outside the General Headquarters.
Earlier this month, the NAB had summoned Imran and his wife, Bushra Bibi, in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case and the investigation into the alleged misuse of authority as public office holder in aiding and abetting illegal transfer of £190 million, for personal gains, but they did not appear before the bureau.
Imran, however, had submitted a detailed reply on May 18 and said that he was not the custodian of the document signed between property tycoon Malik Riaz’s family and the National Crime Agency (NCA) nor did he have any copy of the document.
“All the allegations made by you in the call-up notice are absolutely false, frivolous and concocted, and based on a deliberate misconception of law and facts, and baseless conjectures and surmises,” the PTI chief said in his reply.
He said the correspondence between the government of Pakistan and NCA, UK constituted an official record and should be with the department concerned.
“Similarly, the correspondence (sought by NAB) comprises official records and should be with the department concerned of the government, and I cannot provide the same as I am not its custodian,” he said, adding that documents regarding the Al-Qadir Trust would be available with the chief finance officer (CFO).
“In this respect … [CFO] informs me that he has already provided you (NAB) with the bulk of the documents mentioned in your call-up notice. Accordingly, you may kindly check your record before issuing me a fresh call-up notice as requested,” Imran said.
He also termed the case “politically motivated”. “Your (NAB) allegation that a call-up notice dated 02-03-2023 was earlier issued to me, but I neither joined the inquiry nor provided documents specified therein … This allegation is absolutely false and contumaciously malicious,” he said and added during the entire course of the inquiry, NAB sent only one call-up notice which was promptly responded to.
“Thereafter, you neither sent me any further call-up notice during the inquiry, nor did you refute the purely legal objections … ,” he added.
He said the NAB purportedly completed the inquiry and converted it into an investigation on April 28, but he was not provided with a copy of the inquiry report. The PTI chairman accused the accountability watchdog of playing an “instrumental [role] in my abduction”.
He said he was present in the high court to file a plea seeking a court order to acquire a copy of the investigation report, but he was taken into custody. “You, after taking me into custody pursuant to my illegal arrest, delivered to me a copy of the said inquiry report,” he said in response to the notice.
He further said he would request that before serving him a call-up notice and recording his statement, a copy of the said inquiry report along with his clothes and shaving kit he had left behind at Police Lines Islamabad might also be sent to him at his Zaman Park residence.
Subsequently, NAB had on May 19 again served summons on Imran and his wife for May 23 (today) to record their statements.
Imran’s arrest saga
Imran was whisked away from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises by paramilitary forces in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case on May 9, leading to violent protests across the country. The PTI chief had immediately approached the high court for release but it had declared his arrest legal.
On May 10, an accountability court in Islamabad granted the graft watchdog eight-day remand of Imran.
The ex-premier had then moved the Supreme Court, which had declared the arrest to be “unlawful” on May 11 and had told Imran to appear before the IHC the next day.
“The manner of execution of the arrest warrant issued by the Chairman, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) dated 01.05.2023 in the Al-Qadir Trust case within the premises of the IHC against the petitioner is invalid and unlawful,” the ruling had said.
The top court had also highlighted that the fundamental rights of the petitioner under Articles 4, 9, 10-A and 14 of the Constitution had been infringed.
On May 12, the IHC barred authorities from arresting Imran in cases — including those that are undisclosed — registered across the country until (May 15). The court had also accepted Imran’s bail petition in the Al-Qadir Trust case for two weeks and stopped authorities from arresting the PTI chief till May 17 in any case registered in Islamabad after May 9.
Last week, the IHC had extended its order to prevent Imran’s arrest in cases filed against him after May 9 until May 31.