Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on Tuesday by an anti-graft agency on corruption charges. Government officials alleged that Khan and his wife received land worth millions of dollars as a bribe from a real estate tycoon through a charitable trust.
Khan and his aides have denied any wrongdoing. The developer has denied the charges in the past but he could not be contacted on Wednesday and his company’s marketing manager did not respond to a request for fresh comment.
Below are some facts about the trust and the land acquisition.
What is the Al-Qadir Trust?
Al-Qadir Trust is a non-governmental welfare organization set up by Bushra Watto, Khan’s third wife, and Khan in 2018 when he was still in office.
While prime minister, Khan promoted the trust at official events.
The couple are the sole trustees, according to Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.
What does the Trust do?
The trust runs a university outside Islamabad devoted to spirituality and Islamic teachings, a project inspired by the former first lady, who is also commonly known as Bushra Bibi and has a reputation as a spiritual healer.
Khan has publicly described her as his spiritual leader and said she helped guide him towards a spiritual path.
What is the corruption case?
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told a press conference on Tuesday that the trust was a front for Khan to receive valuable land as a bribe from a real estate developer, Malik Riaz Hussain, who is one of Pakistan’s richest and most powerful businessmen.
The anti-graft agency that arrested Khan had summoned Hussain late last year to submit answers on the land donated to the trust.
The trust has nearly 60 acres of land worth seven billion Pakistani rupees ($24.7 million) and another large piece of land in Islamabad close to Khan’s hilltop home, the minister said.
The 60-acre parcel in Punjab state’s Jhelum district is the official site of the university but very little has been built there.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb also raised questions about donations given for operations of the under-construction institution.
“The trust received 180 million rupee ($635,144.67) for operational expenses, but records showed only 8.52 million rupees” on the books, she said in a statement issued late on Tuesday night.
How was the bribe alleged to have worked?
The government said the scheme originated with 190 million pounds repatriated to Pakistan in 2019 by Britain after Hussain forfeited cash and assets to settle a British probe into whether they were proceeds of crime.
It says instead of putting it in Pakistan’s treasury, Khan’s government used the money to pay fines levied by a court against Hussain for illegal acquisition of government lands at below-market value for development in Karachi.
The interior minister alleged Hussain gave the land in Jhelum and Islamabad to Al-Qadir Trust in exchange for that favour.
(USD$1 = 283.4000 Pakistani rupees)