Foreign Funding, Establishment Support Helped Imran Khan’s Rise (Might Bring His Fall, too)


Imran Khan and his supporters may claim that his rise to power was based on a groundswell of popular support but the reality, as is becoming clearer and clearer every day, is that he was simply a pawn of the establishment who used foreign funding to support Imran’s campaigns.


An investigative reporter tracked the origins of the establishment’s backing Imran Khan to 2008 “The story goes back to the summer of 2008, when prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani’s government moved to impose civilian control over the ISI. The move, aimed at deepening détente with India and pushing the ISI to act against anti-United States jihadists, backfired. Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel has said that  the ISI undermined the civilian peace bid by staging 26/11. Following the United States raid which led to the killing of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, civilian-military relations deteriorated further. The Generals needed a trustworthy political partner. With a platform of seeking talks with Taliban jihadists, greater Islamisation and a hawkish position on Kashmir, Imran had the right ideological credentials.”


In 2012, the establishment encouraged Imran Khan to launch mass protests against the then PPP led government. While Imran’s 2013 election bid failed, the establishment encouraged Imran to continue his protests to paralyze the Nawaz Sharif government.


Arif Naqvi, Imran’s key backer is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces a 291-year sentence for financial fraud, for falsifying documents, and for misappropriating $400 million from investors like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, meant to finance healthcare for the poor in developing countries.


Investigative reports show that Naqvi backed Imran Khan because he was instructed to do so by former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director-general Lieutenant-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha.

Journalist and author Simon Clark revealed “bank records showed that $1.3 million paid to Imran’s party in March 2013 came from Naqvi’s Abraaj Investment Management. Abraaj later expensed the donation to the holding company through which it controlled power supply firm Karachi Electric. Another $2 million, documents show, came to Wootton from United Arab Emirates (UAE) minister Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak al-Nahyan.”


In 2021 an investigation by Margot Gibbs and Malia Pulitzer revealed “several key members of Imran’s inner circle—including ministers Shaukat Tareen, Chaudhry Moonis Elahi and Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar—held millions of dollars in offshore trusts and companies. Tariq Shafi, a leading PTI donor, was found to have $215 million in offshore accounts.”


It is interesting that despite all this open information about Naqvi and Imran’s dealings, about foreign funding, the no criminal investigation has been launched.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has held that Imran Khan received prohibited funds, but its investigation does not touch on the sources and their motives.


All this goes to show that at the end of the day in Pakistan, as in any casino, the house aka the Establishment, always wins. The hold of cronyism and the Pakistani Deep state involvement is so deep and powerful that they will never allow the full truth to come out.


Author: Nasir Saeed