Islamabad - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan’s close friend, Zulfi Bukhari, a British national has been nominated the lead campaigner for PTI in NA-53. However, PTI’s stance over National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) investigation into Bukhari’s offshore companies has raised questions. PTI opposed the investigation initiated by the anti-corruption body on the grounds that he is a British national. However, this stance is a double standard by the PTI leadership because it suggests that a British national can lead election campaign for a Pakistani politician in Pakistan but cannot be investigated by the NAB.

The disparity in the party stance over Zulfi Bukhari though has no legal obligations, it is at the cost of ignoring the local leaders who have worked for the party for years. The nomination of a UK billionaire as the lead campaigner casts questions on the capabilities of the local leadership.  Former ticket holder from the constituency, Ilyas Meharban and opposition leader in the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation, Ali Nawaz Awan are also among the campaigners for the party chairman. Both PTI men are making vigorous efforts so that the party chairman wins the constituency. The interesting aspect of the story is that both are hopeful that once won, Imran Khan would vacate the seat and they would get a chance to contest election from the constituency from the party platform which they were earlier denied.  The in-charge of Imran Khan’s election campaign in NA-53, addressing a press conference last week had said that the constituency was badly ignored in development programmes of all the previous governments during the last 11 years, particularly in the tenure of out-going Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N). He said that the former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had neither done any development work nor put any efforts to resolve civic issues of the area in past the 11 years. Abbasi is also contesting from the same constituency. Zulfi alleged that Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi was involved in installing illegal gas connections in Bara Kahu and committing pre-poll rigging and trying to influence the public opinion.

When approached, Iftikhar Durrani, Head of PTI’s Media Department said that the party has never objected to NAB’s investigation into offshore companies owned by Zulfi Bukhari. “He has joined the investigation and responded sufficiently. He is a law-abiding citizen in West and in Pakistan who has been rated among the top 100 entrepreneurs in the UK and is respected in the society. So there is nothing wrong if he is leading election campaign for Imran Khan in Islamabad,” Durrani held. He was of the view that the party had never opposed NAB’s investigations into the offshore assets of the billionaire.

Zulfi Bukhari had given donations to Imran Khan for both his political and charitable causes. He has also defended owning offshore companies and said that it is a legal and common practice for companies and businessmen like himself to establish commercial entities in different jurisdictions. According to the media reports, Bukhari and his family are linked with six known offshore companies.

When asked former secretary Election Commission of Pakistan, Kanwar Dilshad said that there is no legal bar on a dual national to campaign in favour of a Pakistani politician. He said that Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri is also a dual national yet he is actively leading a political party here in Pakistan. However, he was of the view that Imran Khan should have given a chance to the local leadership to campaign in his favour instead of a dual national with whom the people of the constituency are not acquainted. “This may affect the campaign,” he added.

 

 

tahir niaz