Pakistan's Supreme Court exonerates Imran Khan in foreign funding case, disqualifies close aide

Islamabad: Pakistan's cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan on Friday survived being disqualified from parliament as the Supreme Court dismissed a petition against him in a foreign funding case, months after prime minister Nawaz Sharif was forced to quit by the court in the Panama Papers case.

Khan, 65, the chief of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party and opposition politician could have been banned from parliament. However, Imran's close aide and the secretary general of the party, Jahangir Tareen was disqualified for life by the apex court.

Both were accused of concealing details of some of their properties and income when entering politics. The case was launched last year at the request by Hanif
Abbasi, a leader of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, against Khan and Tareen.

The three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, held around 50 hearings, while the case continued for more than a year.

 Pakistans Supreme Court exonerates Imran Khan in foreign funding case, disqualifies close aide

File image
of Imran Khan. Getty Images

Over 7,000 documents were presented in the court by the petitioner and the accused.

In the short judgement, Nisar said that all allegations against Khan have been rejected, including foreign funding allegation for his property and alleged wrongdoing in purchase Khan's estate of Bani Gala near Islamabad.

But Tareen was held responsible for fraud and disqualified for life.

Nisar said that the bench had carefully examined all the evidence.

The chief justice ruled that Khan was not disqualified as a parliamentarian as the petitioner was not directly affected in the foreign funding case.

The court also ruled that the Election Commission of Pakistan will impartially investigate the foreign funding claims against the PTI chief by scrutinising accounts up till five years ago.

The judgment states that Imran was not bound to declare his offshore company, declared his London flat in an amnesty scheme and that his former wife Jemima gave Imran the funds for buying the Bani Gala estate.

Reacting to the verdict, Khan noted that it took the court one year decide the case which was filed by a person wanted in a drug case – a reference to a case against Abbasi.

"There is no comparison in my case with Nawaz Sharif's, as Sharif is a money launderer but I earned money abroad and brought it back to Pakistan," he told reporters at the Karachi airport.

He expressed joy at his exoneration but regretted that his aide Tareen's disqualification.

"Tareen was disqualified on technical ground," he said.

Meanwhile, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said the party will file an appeal.

"We will file a review petition against disqualification of Tareen," Chaudhry told reporters.

The court had completed hearing and reserved the judgement on 14 November.

Both Khan and Tareen had rejected the charges and also announced to accept the court verdict.

It was the second major case involving the leader of a leading political party. Earlier, the Supreme Court had disqualified Sharif in July for corruption, leading to his ouster.

Khan, a former Pakistani cricket captain, retired in 1992. He founded the political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1996.

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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2017 09:10:50 IST