ISLAMABAD: Giving credence to his claim of leading by example, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf Chairman Imran Khan has finally done what he has been asking all other politicians to do.
“I made Rs20 million this year during the Cricket World Cup but the money came to me tax-free due to a law passed during Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s rule,” Imran told a press conference on Sunday that he had called to declare his financial assets.
Imran cited the Protection of Economic Reform Act 1992, which he said allows free flow of remittances into the country without declaring the source. “I am against this law as it is being used for the wrong reasons and the PTI will help get rid of it. It has been used for money laundering.”
When asked about the source of PTI’s funding, Khan categorically denied allegations that his party was helped financially by the ISI. “I request the Supreme Court to decide Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan’s case and it will become clear who was financed by the ISI. I will quit politics if proved that ISI has funded PTI,” he challenged.
“I am presenting all documents before the media in the hope that other party leaders will follow suit … This is the only way in which corruption can end in Pakistan and taxes can be collected,” Imran said.
But all it provoked his biggest political foe, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, into doing was a counter press conference, challenging Imran’s assertions. “We are not running away from accountability … we have no fear,” said PML-N’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, opposition leader in the National Assembly.
Nisar claimed that there were contradictions in Imran’s declaration of assets and he has underestimated his property. He also proposed a special judicial tribunal to scrutinise politicians’ assets and investigate the Inter-Services Intelligence agency’s (ISI) present and past political ventures.
Imran bares all
Flanked by Justice Wajihuddin and newly-appointed vice chairman of PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Imran had given away details of his assets and asked the country’s political leadership to follow suit or prepare for his “civil disobedience” movement.
Imran’s declarations came after a meeting of the PTI’s core committee, which also nominated Qureshi as the party’s vice chairman.
He clarified that neither him nor any member of Shaukat Khanum Hospital’s board of directors received a salary from the hospital. “I myself donated Rs35 million to the hospital till the year 2000,” he said.
He also shared documentary evidence of his palatial house at Banigalla, plots he received as gifts and agricultural land (66.25 acres) that he inherited. “I received two plots from Nawaz Sharif after the 1992 World Cup and I have given both of them to the hospital,” he said. He also declared that he had sold an apartment in London for Rs0.7 million a few years ago.
He reiterated that party tickets will only be awarded to those only who meet the PTI’s criteria on transparency. “We have made no commitment to those joining the party,” he claimed.
For his part, Nisar rejected the allegation and insisted that the law has instead helped Pakistan collect a huge amount every year in the form of remittances that expatriates send. “For God sake Mr Khan, don’t befool the nation … the law we made then was aimed at discouraging transfer of money through illegal channels,” he said.
“He [Imran] did not pay any taxes between 1979, when he started his career as an international cricketer, till 1992 when he retired and entered politics.”
Nisar said that the PML-N also wants to bring a private bill in parliament to establish a body that will scrutinise assets of politicians, military generals and judges both inside and outside Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2011.
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