ISLAMABAD - PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday defended Farah Khan, a close aide of his wife Bushra Bibi as “absolutely innocent”, describing the corruption probe against her as “political vendetta” against him.

His remarks came days after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) initiated an inquiry against Farah Khan for allegedly possessing illegal assets beyond known sources of income, money laundering, and maintaining various accounts in the name of businesses.

In a statement, NAB had said a “huge turnover amounting to Rs847 million has been found in Farah Khan’s account during the last three years,” NAB said in a statement. “I want to ask NAB the inquiry that you have opened against Farah Khan does even merit a case?” he asked in a response to a question during a press conference here. He also presented his party’s white paper on the ruling coalition’s graft cases. “First they [NAB] said she [Farah Khan] has wealth beyond known sources of income. This only applies to public office holders. Was she ever an MP or a public office holder? She has been working in real estate for the past 20 years,” he said. Imran added that the NAB said her assets saw a significant increase in three years. He said, “Just check and see how much real estate has made money for people in the past three years… it is the most in Pakistan’s history. Ask the ones in real estate how much money they’ve made. But it is no crime.” He said that the only reason for that case was because of her connection to him “She (Farah) is absolutely innocent. I want her to have the opportunity to defend herself. A proper hearing should be conducted,” Imran demanded.

The PTI chief said he was presenting the white paper so that the nation could know that all of the ruling coalition’s corruption cases started in their own tenures, from 2008-2018 apart from the FIA cases. He alleged that the new government has started working on getting rid of the cases.  Presenting his white paper on the corruption charges against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership, Imran Khan said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is on bail alongside his son Chief Minister of Punjab Hamza Shehbaz on charges of money laundering. “The ex-PM said Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz are on bail in the Panama Papers case. Hassan and Hussain fled the country during their tenure,” he added.

The PTI chief said there are several cases of money laundering, involving billions of rupees against the ruling coalition. “So who are these people? They are the ones who have looted us for 30 years,” he said.  He said: “Now they have transferred the investigators and the investigating officers have been removed from the case.   They have kept the record with themselves. This is what happened when Musharraf gave an NRO to Zardari,” said Imran Khan, adding that a drain was built towards Ramazan Sugar Mills “using the public money”. He alleged PM Shehbaz Sharif, while in office of Punjab chief minister, used the premier’s plane and went on a number of foreign and domestic trips. The PTI chief voiced apprehensions that the record of corruption cases against the ruling coalition members would disappear soon.

PTI chief presents white paper on ruling coalition’s output | Terms govt’s move to quash graft cases against itself, coalition partners as ‘NRO-II’

He termed what he said was the government’s move to quash graft cases against itself and coalition members as “NRO-II”, and warned that the current rulers would resume laundering money abroad to further dent the national economy. “The imported government has been imposed on us and they are going to start the corruption business once again,” he alleged.   Imran Khan called the case against himself and his party leaders for the Masjid-e-Nabwi incident as a “foolish” step. He reiterated that those leaders would be treated in the same manner elsewhere in the world.

Imran Khan lashed out at   the ruling Sharif family and hurled different accusations against them. The former premier said Maryam Nawaz Sharif bought a piece of land worth Rs80 million by changing the master plan of Lahore.

Imran said the government should be ashamed of accusing him and his associates of planning the incident of Masjid-e-Nabwi. He also condemned the ‘treatment’ meted out to Sheikh Rashid’s nephew. The former PM stated that the behaviour of the Pakistani pilgrims was a reaction to the ‘rage’ felt by citizens over the ruling coalition government.  In response to a question, Imran reiterated his criticism of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, saying his party has no confidence in him.   “We believe he [CEC] influenced the courts when   decision [on early elections] was about to be made. The courts should have — at that moment — dismissed him and brought a new chief election commissioner,” Imran said.

To another question, Imran said his march on Islamabad will be the “biggest ever” in the history of Pakistan. “I want Pakistan to understand that this will be the biggest movement. The people are ready, they will come if we give the call today, but I want it to be the biggest in history,” he said. However, he insisted the march would be peaceful.