The blame game between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) intensified on Friday when Imran Khan hurled fresh allegations at Nawaz Sharif regarding tax evasion and amassing property abroad.
At a news conference, the PTI chief challenged Nawaz to a live debate on any television channel to let the public know who had been involved in plundering the wealth of the nation.
Khan, whose party is posing a grave challenge to the Sharifs in their traditional stronghold central Punjab, posed 11 questions for the PML-N head to answer.
“Come out in public and answer my questions,” said Khan. Of the 11 questions, the most significant was why the PML-N chief didn’t sue writer Raymond Baker who accused him of corruption worth $417 million.
Baker’s book alleged Nawaz of taking a commission of $160 million from Daewoo for a motorway project the PML-N head started during his first stint in power between 1990 and 1993.
Moreover, Khan inquired about Nawaz’s property in the United Kingdom (UK) and the steel mill he established in Jeddah.
“What his tax returns suggest is different from what he has got outside Pakistan…Nawaz Sharif should bring forth a clarification,” said the PTI chief.
Instantly reacting to Khan’s appeal, PML-N spokesperson Senator Pervaiz Rashid said that Khan was ‘gambling’ with the donations that he receives and now that he has been exposed, he should apologise to the nation.
“He has cheated with the nation and hurt their trust in him...instead of getting frustrated he should say sorry to the people of Pakistan,” the senator said in a statement PML-N media office issued immediately after Khan’s news conference.
A default of Rs6 billion from Pakistani banks, construction of sprawling 1,700 acre housing compound in Raiwind and withdrawing money from his and cronies’ accounts before foreign currency accounts were frozen in 1998 were the other allegations that Khan posed against Nawaz.
On Thursday, Khan was accused by PML-N top leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali of evading tax on his income from the cricket matches he played between 1972 and 1992.
Two days before that, another PML-N leader Khawaja Muhammad Asif blamed Khan for ‘gambling’ in overseas real estate markets with the money he received as donation for Pakistan’s premier charity hospital he built in Lahore for cancer patients.
The PTI chief rejected the allegations and insisted that both his tax record and handling of donation were clean of any embezzlement for which he has documented proof.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.