ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said that he had “not done injustice” with estranged PTI leader Jahangir Khan Tareen. The premier further said that he had not given an NRO (National Reconciliation Ordinance) to Tarin who is facing an inquiry by the Federal Investi­gation Agency (FIA) related to the sugar scam.

The comments came while the premier responded to a caller on the ‘Apka Wazeer-e-Azam Apke Saath’ programme during which he took telephone calls from citizens.

The premier said that Tareen claimed he was a victim of injustice. “I have never done any injustice with anyone. When I haven’t done it with any of my opponents, how will I do it with Jahangir Tareen?”

However, he vowed to “never give an NRO” to people who were part of the sugar mafia and had caused trouble for the people. These mafias did not pay taxes and raised sugar prices whenever they wanted to, the premier said, emphasising that they would not get any “facility”.

“This is just one case, [authorities] have a book’s worth of cases against him. The only time (the stolen) money comes back is when one of the wives or sons have to buy a house. Now, if you gather all Pakistani prisoners who have stolen, all their thievery combined is not equal to Rs700bn.

He claimed that because of the two NROs given by former president Pervez Musharraf to Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif, the country’s loans had mushroomed from Rs6 trillion to Rs30tr. “This is what has destroyed the country. I have always said I would not give an NRO and I am saying it again today.”

Context

Earlier, Imran Khan categorically told the “Jahangir Tareen bloc” in PTI that investigation against party members will not be stopped at any cost.

Raja Riaz, who was leading the group, said the Prime Minister assured that justice will be served. The JKT group expressed their reservations on Shahzad Akbar, but the prime minister did not ‘acknowledge’ their views. The group had demanded the removal of Shahzad Akbar.

“We conveyed our reservation about action against some party leaders,” he said. However, he admitted that the prime minister did not give any time frame about resolving their issue. “The prime minister has asked for some time to resolve our issue,” he added.

According to sources, the PM said, “Jahangir Tareen is a personal friend and important leader of the party, rest assured no one will be wronged.” Prime Minister Imran Khan asked the members to have trust in him and assured that no one would be subjected to injustice.

The PM refused to accept any kind of pressure on the ongoing Sugar Commission investigation, and said that the whole process would be non-discriminatory. “If anyone thinks I will be pressurized into stopping the investigation, they are mistaken”, said the PM.

The prime minister appointed Senator Ali Zafar to hear the grievances of the JKT group. Senator Ali Zafar will also file an analysis of the cases filed by the Federal Investigation Agency against Jahangir Tareen.

The PTI government has a thin majority in the National Assembly. The JKT group’s revolt could bring change in the National Assembly and Punjab Assembly.

Last week, they had refused to hold a meeting with a committee constituted to hold talks, insisting that they wanted the prime minister himself to listen to their grievances.

Earlier, the PM held a “consultative” meeting before meeting with the Tareen loyalists, according to sources.

Jahangir and his son Ali Tareen have been booked by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for their alleged involvement in the sugar scam. They denied allegations. They are on bail till May 3.

The Tareen loyalists have been standing by Jahangir when he appears before courts “in a show of support to him.”

Meanwhile, ahead of the meeting of the Tareen group, the government has removed the head of FIA Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Mohammad Rizwan. He, however, will remain a member of the JIT. Deputy Director Abu Bakar will replace Rizwan.

Tareen’s woes

Tareen, once a close confidant of Prime Minister Imran Khan, is in hot water for his alleged involvement in the manipulation of the sugar industry. FIA has registered multiple cases against him and his son.

Speaking to reporters after one of his court hearings, Tareen, finally, broke down and asked the PM for ‘justice’. “I was a friend. Why are you pushing me to become an enemy?” he asked alluding to cases against him.

The probe against Tareen started after the report of the sugar inquiry commission last year. The commission had implicated Tareen’s JDW Sugar Mills among other sugar mills for circumventing laws to make profits.

The report had revealed how a sugar cartel comprising 88 mills, including JDW Sugar Mills owned by Tareen, had cheated sugarcane growers and consumers at every step to mint money, resulting in the hike in the price of sugar.

In June 2020, PM Imran Khan said his government has started an action on basis of a sugar inquiry report and that he will “unmask all mafias”.

In August, FIA initiated an investigation into money laundering charges against Tareen’s JWD Group. In November 2020, FIA registered a case against Tareen and son Ali Tareen over money laundering.

As per the FIA, Tareen allegedly transferred Rs3.14 billion to a private company, Farooqi Pulp Private Limited, owned by his son and close relatives. “The transfers, especially after 2011-2012, were patently fraudulent investments which ultimately translated into personal gains for the family member of the JDW CEO,” the FIR alleged.

It further alleged that Ali Tareen purchased cash from the open market in Lahore in a structured manner to remit it to the UK. “Subsequently, in 2016, Ali Khan Tareen remitted approximately US$7.4 million to the United Kingdom for purchasing properties (to be investigated in detail during the course of the investigation) which makes them liable for Anti-Money Laundering investigation,” the FIR quoted in media said.

According to the FIA, Tareen’s son-in-law Waleed Akbar Faruki and Shahid Akbar Faruki also benefitted from the scheme along with Tareen and his son Ali Tareen.

In the second case, Tareen has been accused of corporate fraud of Rs3.6 billion through the purchase of JK Farming Systems Ltd and booking losses through it.

Tareen has also been accused of making “voluminous withdrawals amounting to at least Rs2.2 billion”. The FIA said that these withdrawals were made “fraudulently and dishonestly through a trusted cash rider”.

According to a report, Amir Waris, a cashier at JDW’s Corporate Head Office, deposited large amounts into the personal and business accounts of Tareen and his family members.

The sections under which the case has been lodged against the father-son duo include 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating), and 109 (abetment) among others.

Tareen, however, has denied all allegations. He said the FIA’s claims against him are “totally fabricated”. Unfortunate to see them go on another smear campaign against me & my family without establishing anything illegal,” he added.

The story was filed by the News Desk.
The Desk can be reached at info@thecorrespondent.com.pk.

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