KARACHI: Moonis Elahi, son of former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, arrived in Karachi on Wednesday “to put up a fight,” terming his indictment in the National Insurance Company (NICL) scam a tool to malign his family and his party.
The FIA had secured arrest warrants for Moonis Elahi, who is also a former member of the Punjab Assembly, in January – just as it geared up for registering criminal cases against the accused involved in the Rs4.45 billion NICL scam.
Elahi, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, was to appear in court earlier but was out of the country.
“I have not reached an understanding with anyone,” Elahi claimed, responding to allegations that the timing of his return was the result of a possible understanding or assurance from the government.
“Neither is my father the chief minister, nor is my uncle the prime minister. There is no influence of my family on the Punjab government or the centre. As soon as I found out that a bogus case had been fabricated against me, I returned immediately.”
The officer investigating the case, Zafar Qureshi, has stated that Elahi made Rs220 million by defrauding NICL, a government-owned insurance company. The FIA alleges that several businessmen, including Elahi, used their political influence to force the NICL to buy land that they did not own, or land that was sold to the company at far higher than market prices.
“I don’t want to comment on the investigating officer,” said Elahi, before going on to comment on the investigating officer and potential conflicts of interest.
“I had heard that he was a competent officer but there had been some problems regarding his brothers during our party’s tenure. One of his brothers wanted to be the Punjab chief secretary during my father’s time as chief minister, which he couldn’t become. His other brother, who used to be an MNA of our party, wasn’t given a ticket [later].”
Moonis Elahi has ample time to consult his team of lawyers and prepare his defence as he has been given three weeks to surrender before the trial court – the banking court in Lahore. The period of protective bail started from the day he was admitted to a protective transitory bail.
The FIA had sent a questionnaire to Elahi, regarding the Rs220 million transferred to his bank account, who was then out of Pakistan. As he did not return to the country during the allotted time, the FIA issued arrest warrants against him in two cases.
Meanwhile additional district & sessions (AD&S) Judge Yousaf Aujla on Wednesday set aside order of a magisterial court regarding initiating proceedings against Elahi and declaring him a proclaimed offender in the NICL scam.
The court, after examining the record submitted by the state lawyer, set aside earlier orders of magistrate Irfan Basra, passed on January 28 and February 8.
Elahi’s counsel Advocate Aamir Saeed Rawan had filed a revision petition contending that FIA misguided the court while gaining arrest warrants for his client.
Earlier, judicial magistrate Irfan Basra had started proceedings to declare Elahi proclaimed offender in the NICL scam. The court had directed authorities to affix written proclamation at Elahi’s residence, requiring him to appear before court in a month’s time.
With additional reporting by Zeeshan Mujahid from Karachi and Rana Yasif from Lahore
Published in The Express Tribune, February 24th, 2011.