Estranged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Khan Tareen, after repeated snubs by Prime Minister Imran Khan over a sugar scam inquiry against him, has decided to form a separate group of ‘like-minded’ lawmakers in the National and Punjab Assembly.
Tareen announced the decision during a dinner at his residence on Tuesday which was attended by 31 lawmakers.
The PTI leader said that he was forced to form a separate group — which is “not a forward bloc” — after the vengeful treatment meted out to him and his comrades by the Punjab government. Talking to media persons, he said: “We were part of the PTI, we are part of the PTI and we will continue to remain part of the PTI.”
Tareen has appointed Raja Riaz as the parliamentary leader of the group in the National Assembly, while Saeed Akbar Nawani will be the parliamentary leader in the Punjab Assembly.
The disgruntled PTI leader said there was no probe against him over sugar scam, adding that “fake cases” were being registered against him to settle score. “Khan Sahab is an honorable man and I believe he is just,” he said in an allusion to PM Imran Khan.
Last week, Imran had said that his government has “not done injustice” to Tareen. The premier had 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?”
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 PM 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.
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 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. The Tareen loyalists have been standing by Jahangir when he appears before courts “in a show of support to him.”
It may be noted here that the government recently removed the head of FIA Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Mohammad Rizwan that has Tareen’s case. Deputy Director Abu Bakar replaced Rizwan.
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.