Puzzled by those defending plunderers: Pak PM

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday took a jibe at the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), saying that the Joint Investigation Teams’ (JIT) reports on Panama Papers and fake accounts cases were “case studies in how states fail.”

Khan’s comments come a day after former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment in Al-Azizia Steel Mills reference case while the Supreme Court relayed findings of JIT in a money laundering case against former President Asif Ali Zardari, according to Pakistani media reports.

Taking to his Twitter handle, Khan wrote: “The Panama JIT report and the Fake Accounts JIT report are case studies in how states fail-getting impoverished and drowning in debt. The scale and methods used for siphoning off public money are incredulous and mind-boggling.”

Chiding the supporters of PPP and PML-N and accusing them of supporting those who ‘plundered’ public money, the cricketer-turned-politician further said: “I am puzzled and perplexed by those who, despite having read the two reports, are still defending the plunderers.”

On Monday, an accountability court in Islamabad imposed a fine of US$ 2.5 million against Sharif in the Al-Azizia case of money laundering, tax evasion and hiding offshore assets, which was initiated against him on September 14 last year. The court, however, acquitted him in another case related to the Flagship Investments reference.

On the same day, the country’s top court barred transfers and trading of properties of Zardari Group, Bahria Town and Omni Group after a JIT report established them responsible in money laundering and fake accounts cases, as per the media reports.

In January this year, an inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) began when the State Bank of Pakistan’s financial monitoring unit issued a “suspicious transaction report” on 10 bank accounts. Transactions worth billions were made over the years when over 20 ‘benami’ accounts were opened at a private bank.