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Imran Khan pushes for treason proceedings over ‘election theft’

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PAKISTAN’S former prime minister, Imran Khan, has demanded high treason proceedings against officials whom he alleges stole his party’s mandate in the February general elections, enabling the rival Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) to form a coalition government.

Khan’s remarks came as he addressed reporters last Saturday (16) after a hearing in the Al-Qadir Trust corruption case, which also implicates his wife, Bushra Bibi, aide Farah Gogi, and property tycoon Malik Riaz.

The February 8 elections in Pakistan were marred by allegations of vote rigging. Although more than 90 independent candidates backed by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the maximum number of seats in the National Assembly, the PML-N, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and the PPP, led by former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto, struck a post-poll deal and formed a coalition government in the country.

PTI alleged the new government was formed by “stealing” its mandate. Last Saturday, Khan claimed that his party bagged more than 30 million votes, whereas the rest of the 17 political parties jointly secured the same number of votes, according to Dawn newspaper. He said his party raised the irregularities in the polls with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and that nongovernmental organisations also pointed out flaws in the electoral process. Khan also described the upcoming Senate polls as a “fixed match”.

Elections for the Senate, the upper house of the bicameral parliament, will take place on April 2.

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During the hearing of the Al-Qadir Trust case, Khan’s counsel concluded the cross-examination of a prosecution witness, who was the chief financial officer of Al-Qadir University.

The case revolves around the settlement of £190 million, which the UK’s National Crime Agency sent to Pakistan after recovering the amount from a Pakistani property tycoon.

Khan, then prime minister, instead of depositing it in the national treasury, allowed the businessman (Riaz) to use the amount to partly settle a fine of about Rs 450 billion imposed by the Supreme Court some years ago.

Reportedly, the tycoon, in return, gifted about 57 acres of land to a trust that had been set up by Khan and his wife, Bushra Bibi, to establish the Al-Qadir University in the Sohawa area of the Jhelum district of Punjab.

Accountability judge Nasir Javed Rana also recorded the statement of another prosecution witness.

During the hearing, Khan, Bushra Bibi, her daughter, and son-in-law were also present in the courtroom. The case was adjourned until Wednesday (20).

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