IHC approves Imran Khan’s bail plea in £190m reference

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday approved PTI founder Imran Khan’s bail application in the 190 million pound corruption case. A two-member bench, comprising IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri, had reserved the verdict a day ago after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) prosecution team and Sardar Latif Khan Khosa, the counsel for Imran, concluded arguments. In his concluding arguments in Tuesday’s court hearing, NAB Special Prosecutor Amjad Pervaiz had informed the court that the trial of the ex-premier and his spouse was about to conclude. He said that out of 59 prosecution witnesses, 30 have testified so far, and the prosecution would cut the number of rem­a­ining witnesses by 10 to 15 and produce the rest for recording statements. He cited a Supreme Court judgement where bail petitions were turned down in such situations. Imran and his wife Bushra Bibi were indicted in the case by a Rawalpindi accountability court in February. The case alleges that Imran and Bushra Bibi obtained billions of rupees and land worth hundreds of kanals from Bahria Town Ltd for legalising Rs50 billion that was identified and returned to the country by the UK during the previous PTI government. The reference filed by NAB alleged that Imran, who is currently in jail, played a “pivotal role in the illicit transfer of funds meant for the state of Pakistan into an account designated for the payment of land by Bahria Town, Karachi”. It also claimed that despite being given multiple opportunities to justify and provide information, the accused deliberately, with mala fide intention, refused to give information on one pretext or another. Property tycoon Malik Riaz Hussain and his son Ahmed Ali Riaz, Mirza Shehzad Akbar, and Zulfi Buk­hari are also among the suspects in this reference, but instead of joining the investigation and subsequent court proceedings, they absconded and were subsequently dec­lared proclaimed offenders (PO). Farhat Shahzadi, a close friend of Imran’s spouse, and Ziaul Mustafa Nasim, a legal expert for the PTI government’s Assets Recovery Unit, were also declared POs. Subsequently, the properties of all six accused had been frozen. The reference In the £190 million NAB reference, known as the ‘Al-Qadir Trust case’, it is alleged that Imran Khan and his wife acquired billions of rupees worth of land and assets from Bahria Town Limited in return for giving legal cover to £50 billion sent by the UK’s National Crime Agency to the Pakistani government during the PTI government’s tenure. This case is related to the illegal acquisition and construction of land for Al-Qadir University, where illegal benefits of £140 million were obtained through the UK’s National Crime Agency against Malik Riaz and his family for money laundering. Imran Khan is also accused of concealing facts regarding the contract related to this matter, deceiving the cabinet, and diverting the amount (£140 million) received under the settlement agreement, which was supposed to be deposited into the national treasury, towards the recovery of liabilities amounting to £450 billion in Bahria Town Karachi.