LAHORE: The Punjab government has decided to approach the Interpol seeking issuance of a ‘red notice’ against Farhat Shahzadi aka Farah Gogi, a close aide of PTI chairman Imran Khan’s wife Bushra Bibi, for allegedly laundering ‘billions of rupees’ and getting undue favours from the previous PTI regime.
A red notice is an international request sent to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) seeking the arrest and extradition of an individual.
It may be mentioned that Farah Gogi left the country following Imran’s ouster from the prime minister’s office. She has since been named in several cases by the PML-N government. A few days ago, the Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment booked Farah and her mother and arrested two others in a case concerning allegedly illegal allotment of two industrial plots, measuring 10 acres, to a company owned by her.
According to the inquiry report, the plots in question were allotted on a subsidized rate offered by the PTI government that was Rs83 million but their market value was about Rs600 million.
In April this year, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had authorized an inquiry against her on allegations of accumulating ‘illegal assets beyond known sources of income, money laundering and maintaining various accounts in the name of businesses’.
Flanked by Law Minister Malik Ahmed Khan, Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar while addressing a press conference here on Sunday played an audio clip featuring an alleged conversation between Bushra Bibi and PTI’s social media head Arsalan Khalid, in which the former issues instructions to the latter on labeling political opponents as “traitors”.
The audiotape was, however, termed as “fake” by PTI senior leader and Imran Khan’s chief security officer Dr Shahbaz Gill, who said the “script” was written by fools.
According to the Home Minister, the Ministry of Interior had already been communicated with about the issuance of “red warrants” against Farhat Shahzadi. He said that Farah had sent him Rs6 billion legal notice claiming her name was Farhat Shahzadi and she was wrongly referred to as “Gogi” by him during press talks. He urged the PTI chief to ask Farah to back to the country if he had a firm belief that she was innocent. “I must say here that Imran is not bringing her back here because she and her husband will become approvers within an hour of their arrest,” he claimed.
Actually, former PM Imran allegedly committed corruption through Farah, he said, adding that Farah had obtained an industrial plot in Faisalabad Special Economic Zone for Rs83 million against its market value of Rs600m.
“Farah, her mother Bushra Khan and (Farah’s husband) Ahsan Jamil Gujjar are involved in this deal,” he said, claiming that “it is an open and shut case”. He said the trio of Farah, Ahsan Jamil Gujjar and Bushra Bibi would sit together for hours at the Prime Minister’s House and ‘wheel and deal’. He insisted that Imran Khan is not an ordinary man as his corruption stories are now surfacing and a lot more will be unearthed in the days to come. He said those calling the former premier frugal and honest ‘must sit with him and talk about the industrial plot issue’, which he said ‘cannot be justified in any form’. He further said that Imran Khan started criticizing the army once his corruption cases surfaced.
Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Malik Ahmed Khan casted doubts on Imran Khan’s allegations against the incumbent government saying he must furnish evidence if he had any regarding the alleged backing of institutions to the PML-N.
On Saturday, the PTI chief in his speech at the Parade Ground had claimed that rigging could take place during the upcoming by-polls in Punjab as ‘the umpires’ stand on the government’s side. “We have 20 by-elections coming up in Punjab. The only way they can win is through rigging. The people are against them, but the umpires are with them. We have to defeat these thieves despite their umpires,” Imran had said.
Reacting to his claims, the law minister today said: “Pakistan is threatened by an internal conspiracy hatched by Imran Khan as we have no threats of an external conspiracy.” He accused the former PTI government of transferring ‘billions of rupees’ from digital media wing accounts to retired servicemen, who according to him, were working for the PTI’s social media teams. He hoped that Imran will have to be answerable for ‘every wrong he has committed’.
Referring to Bushra Bibi as ‘Pinky Peerni’, the minister asked whether it was possible for her to commit financial irregularities without the approval of Imran. He insisted that the government would also defeat the PTI in the by-elections and win at least 19 out of 20 seats of the Punjab Assembly.
To a query whether the PML-N still holds critical views about the army as they held during the previous elections, the minister said: “Our criticism of the army was political and it was based on interference in 2018 elections. And we had evidence for it.”
To another query, Malik said the allegations of Toshakhana against ex-PM Nawaz Sharif were “baseless”, adding that any prime minister was entitled to get a vehicle from there by paying its amount.
According to a reference filed before an accountability court, Nawaz as well as former president and co-chairperson of PPP Asif Ali Zardari had obtained cars from Toshakhana by paying only 15 percent of the price of the luxury vehicles.
The NAB had alleged that ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gillani facilitated the allotment of the vehicles to Zardari and Nawaz by ‘dishonestly’ and ‘illegally’ relaxing the procedure for the acceptance and disposal of gifts vide a cabinet division memorandum of 2007.
According to the law minister, PTI chief Imran Khan would sing praises of Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa when he was in power. “I can show several interviews of him wherein he is commending the army. However, when he lost his government due to a no-trust motion, he started targeting Gen Bajwa for ‘not saving his government’, the law minister added.
He said the former PM hurled allegations at all his opponents while he himself ‘remained involved in corruption’. “He (Imran) sold watches for Rs180 million and also took along almost all gifts from the Toshkhana,” he claimed and called Imran “Tosha Khan”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022