Was Khawaja Asif Right About IKF?

Imran KhanEarlier this year, Khawaja Asif called for a forensic audit of funds collected under Imran Khan Foundation (IKF) suggesting that the money raised for floods relief may have been misused. At the time the statement was mostly seen as an attempt to distract attention from ‘Panama Papers‘ scandal that was making headlines. Not much has been reported about this since the last two months.

Now, however, a new report has appeared that suggests the Defence Minister may have been onto something. Researchers at ‘Alternative Perspectives’ think tank have published some US government documents that show millions of dollars from IKF being transferred to an undisclosed account. According to the report IKF officials refused to give any comment when they were asked where the missing millions were sent.

Where did the millions that were donated to IKF for flood relief end up being sent? Will a forensic audit be done, or will IKF officials finally give some clarification of how the people’s donations were actually used? For some reason I don’t expect any answers…..

PTI, JUD using crises to grow their own power at the expense of the state

plaque commemorating PTI  funding of Jamaat-ud-Dawa wing FIF

Four years ago, historic floods devastated Pakistan. The government immediately launched an effort to raise money to provide relief for affectees, with President Zardari stepping up and donating over Rs.300 millions of his own money to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. The government admitted being overwhelmed by the unprecedented natural disaster, but efforts to help those suffering the most were hindered when ambitious¬†politicians chose to use¬†the event for their own personal agendas. Imran Khan led the pack in this move, telling the international community that Pakistan’s government was too corrupt and that they should donate their money to his own personal foundation. In doing so, the PTI chief was able to build his own personal stature, but at the cost of undermining the state itself.

Imran Khan wasn’t the only one who took this cynical attitude towards suffering, however. Also there was jihadi leader Hafiz Saeed who used his newly formed front group “Falah-e-Insaniat Foundation” to distribute relief goods. Like PTI, Hafiz Saeed uses “humanitarian relief” work as a cover for promoting¬†extremism.

In Pakistan, Jamaat ud-Dawa and the FIF continue to operate quite openly and Hafiz Khalid Waleed said the group was using its flood relief camps to preach its version of Islam.

“We think that a Muslim has to live according to his religion in order to become a good human being. Thank God, we do preach to them, and it has its effects, and they are converted. To us, this is social work, too.”

Today, PTI and Jamaat-ud-Dawa are working hand in hand in Sindh, where Imran Khan is desperate to get a political foothold. By providing humanitarian relief, PTI and JUD are able to win the “hearts and minds” of the people there, turning them against their own government and making them more sympathetic to the PTI’s and JUD’s agendas.

This may be a cynical political ploy by PTI and JUD, but the real responsibility comes back to the state. If the state was providing adequate relief to affected people, there would not be a ‘vacuum’ for other groups to step into and take over the role of the state. By failing to provide for the people, the state is undermining its own legitimacy and fueling its own demise.

Army Renews Democracy Pledge

Army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas has said that, “The army has a demonstrated policy of supporting the political process within the confines of the constitution of Pakistan.” This reaffirmation of support for democracy comes following the release of US diplomatic cables by Wikileaks which suggest that COAS Gen. Ashfaq Kayani considered removing Zardari in 2009. If it is true that this was considered, even so such a coup never took place.

It should be noted also that if the Army had any designs on replacing Zardari, surely the time would have come when the president was out of the country and the Army was active with flood relief. This was a low point in the public perception of the president and with him already out of the country it would have been easiest for the Army to install a replacement.

The fact that Army did not take advantage of this opportunity during the flood crisis demonstrates that there is no desire on the part of the military brass to insert themselves into civilian affairs.