Imran Khan has famously and repeatedly said that if anyone can prove that his party has been funded by the ISI. Far from being a statement of principle, the PTI chief is really just stating reality – if anyone can prove that PTI is part of a Mehrangate sequel, Imran Khan will be finished in poitics anyway. But there’s another way to read Imran Khan’s statement – one that leaves more questions
Imran Khan says he’s not funded by the ISI, and I have not seen any evidence to the contrary. But while former military officials turn on each other in the Supreme Court hearings about how they funded opposition parties in the 1990 elections, it’s unlikely that anyone is writing cheques to anyone. Surely those inclined to such shenanigans have learned that such amateurish election manipulation is unnecessary.
This came to mind when I was reading a post on the Express Tribune blog by Adnan Khalid Rasool about where political parties get their money. In the case of PTI, we know where some of it comes from. Earlier this month, Imran Khan reported that he raised 160,000 in Glasgow, Scotland. Imran Khan and other PTI officials spend a lot of time raising money in the US and UK. But cash is not the only medium for greasing the gears of political machinery.
Jehangir Tareen gives Imran Khan the use of his company’s plane and has even appointed his personal servants as directors of his mill so that his decisions will be easily accepted. Such contributions would never show up on a report of party donations or expenditures. When Prince Jam Qaim explained why he joined PTI, he said “Several of my friends and some well-wishers in the military had advised me to join Imran Khan”.
If someone can “advise” Prince Jam to join Imran Khan, what is to say that same person doesn’t also go to the local tamboo wala to “advise” them to “donate” their services to PTI? Has Imran Khan been “funded” by those going around “advising” people to support PTI? Or is all the talk about “funding” a bit of clever double-speak to mask what’s really going on?
The latest example of Imran Khan’s double-speak is the apparent benami transaction that got him his sprawling Bani Gala estate. The story first broken by Umar Cheema wasn’t a real surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.
On “Off the Record”, Khan got really angry when Kashif Abbasi asked him about it.
According to Khan, it wasn’t really a benami transaction – the lawyer got the wording wrong. It was just his wife buying him property in her name, and Imran Khan didn’t declare it on his 2002 taxes because it wasn’t in his name…which is precisely the definition of a benami transcation, isn’t it?
Tied up in knots by the end of the discussion, Imran Khan is furious and not really making much sense. It reminds me of when he used to say that his party would not accept any old faces…until he eagerly welcomed Javed Hashmi, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, and dozens of ‘electables’ like Tahir Rasheed and Janhangir Tareen. Once again he found himself clarifying that when he said one thing, he meant the opposite.
I’ve noted before that Imran Khan has a bad habit of trying to be all things to all people. What’s really troubling is that it looks like he’s also trying to be all things to himself.