Pakistan: Ex-PM Imran Khan Handed Over To Accountability Watchdog For Investigation In Land Bribe Case
By Arab News
By Aamir Saeed
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan was on Wednesday handed over by an accountability court to the national anti-graft watchdog on eight-day physical remand for investigation in a case in which he and his wife are accused of receiving land worth millions of dollars as a bribe from a real estate tycoon through a charitable trust.
Khan was presented before Judge Mohammed Bashir in the Al-Qadir Trust case at Islamabad Police Lines, which was given the status of a court late on Tuesday night.
Bashir ordered the eight-day remand in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau and directed officials to present Khan in court on May 17.
The former prime minister’s lawyer Sher Afzal Khan Marwat told Arab News after the verdict: “Khan has given a message to me for the Pakistani public and he asked me to tell you in the same words. We told him the nation has come out on the streets and your arrest is being condemned.
“He (Khan) said: ‘Tell the nation that if martial law is imposed by (army chief) Asim Munir, you have to stand strongly for the rule of law.’”
The Al-Qadir Trust, owned by Khan and his third wife, runs a university outside Islamabad devoted to spirituality and Islamic teachings. The project is inspired by Khan’s wife, commonly known as Bushra Bibi, who has a reputation as a spiritual healer.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told a press conference on Tuesday that the trust was a front for Khan to receive valuable land as a bribe from a real estate developer, who is one of Pakistan’s richest and most powerful businessmen. The trust has nearly 60 acres of land worth 7 billion Pakistani rupees ($24.7 million) and another large piece of land in Islamabad close to Khan’s hilltop home, the minister said.
The 60-acre parcel is the official site of the university but very little has been built there.
Aide Fawad Chaudhry said on Tuesday the land bribe charges were trumped-up.
Just hours after Khan was remanded in police custody in the Al-Qadir Trust case, his lawyer confirmed the former prime minister had been indicted in a separate case involving the sale of state gifts, popularly called the Toshakhana reference.
He told the media: “We have boycotted the court proceedings and Khan has also not signed the documents.”
Khan was arrested on Tuesday from inside the premises of the Islamabad High Court, triggering protests across the country by impassioned supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, arguably the most popular in the country.
The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday heard a case on whether Khan’s arrest from within the court premises was legal, and ruled late in the evening that it was.
The PTI on Wednesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the IHC ruling. The petition was rejected by the SC.
PTI leader Asad Umar was also arrested at the judicial complex in Islamabad on Wednesday morning after he had arrived to submit a plea to meet Khan. It was unclear on what charges he was arrested.