Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday took aim at Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan for the latter’s failure to establish a money trail for a flat he owns in London, saying that it was now Khan’s turn to be held accountable.
The PML-N bigwig was talking to journalists in Sialkot.
Earlier in the day, it had emerged that Imran Khan could not submit complete financial records to the Supreme Court in a case pertaining to his ownership of assets in London.
Building on the news, Asif additionally accused Khan of investing charity money meant for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and Namal College in France and Oman.
He also stated that Khan’s accountability should be “very different” from that of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as the former oversaw the dispensation of other people’s donations while the latter was only being held accountable for his personal wealth.
Grouping together Khan’s cancer hospital and Namal College — both social welfare projects — with Khan’s political party, PTI, Asif said: “We need to find out whether [all of] these institutions are being used to launder money.”
“Politics is a ruthless profession,” he continued, seemingly realising that he was accusing welfare projects of a serious crime. Nonetheless, he insisted that “Khan should not hide behind his institutions when he is held accountable.”
“Nawaz Sharif did not ask to be exempted, although he had the right. The law should be the same for Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif,” Asif said.
Asif also accused Khan of ‘whitening’ his ‘black money’ by taking advantage of amnesty schemes that allowed people to repatriate wealth in return for paying one per cent in lieu of unpaid taxes on them.
“The past three to four years have proven you are ‘Double Shah’,” Asif said in a comment directed at the PTI chief, alluding to a notorious fraud who ran a Ponzi scheme in Pakistan.
“By the time money made its way into cricket, you had begun other businesses,” he said, asking how Khan had been able to build his assets.
Moving on to Panamagate and the Supreme Court’s pending ruling on the matter, Asif said: “There is no example in history of the way Nawaz Sharif was held accountable.”
Demanding that Khan also be held accountable for “three generations”, especially whatever he inherited from his father, Asif said that: “We will not let him avoid accountability.”
To a question, the defence minister stated that his party was not even considering the possibility of the prime minister’s disqualification by the Supreme Court, therefore no name, including his own, was under consideration for the premiership in case Sharif had to step down.
Downplaying a statement made by the prime minister in which he accused the opposition of being “puppets”, he said the statement is being “misconstrued”.
On his rumored fallout with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, Asif said disagreement was a facet of democracy and that his differences with Nisar were a “personal matter”.
“[At the end of the day] all of us have to say amen to what the leadership decides,” Asif said.