NAB team quizzes Imran in govt chopper misuse case

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PESHAWAR: During his first visit to the provincial capital after the July 25 polls, prime minister-in-waiting Imran Khan appeared before a combined investigation team (CIT) of the National Accountability Bureau, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in connection with an inquiry into the alleged misuse of KP government helicopters by him when his party was in power in the province.

Mr Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) nominee for the post of prime minister, reached the NAB regional headquarters at Hayatabad Township under media glare and tight security.

A NAB official told Dawn that Imran Khan remained with the five-member CIT for over an hour during which the investigation officers posed several queries to him and also handed him over a questionnaire asking him to submit written replies within 15 days.

PTI chief asked to file response to anti-graft body’s questionnaire within 15 days

The official said that Mr Khan gave verbal replies to some of the questions. His counsel Babar Awan presented some documents to the investigation team in support of the contentions of Imran Khan.

The official said that Mr Khan appreciated the efforts of NAB for curbing corruption and quoted him as saying that everyone should be equal in the eyes of law.

The PTI chief was accompanied by former chief minister Pervez Khattak, outgoing speaker of the KP Assembly Asad Qaiser and MNA-elect Ali Haider Zaidi. Previously, the bureau had summoned the PTI leader on July 18, but due to his engagements in the election campaign, he had not turned up and instead requested that another date for his appearance may be fixed after the elections, preferably on Aug 7.

The earlier notice was issued to him on July 11 asking him to appear before the combined investigation team in connection with the helicopter inquiry on July 18.

However, he submitted an application to the KP NAB, seeking more time for appearance. Pervez Khattak and some government officials have already appeared before the CIT in the same inquiry.

NAB Chairman retired Justice Javed Iqbal had a few months ago taken notice of the helicopter issue when it was highlighted by a section of print and electronic media and had directed the KP NAB to inquire into the allegations levelled against Imran Khan.

NAB had alleged that there was documentary evidence that Mr Khan had paid Rs2.1 million for using a Mi-171 and an Ecureuil helicopter belonging to the KP government for 74 hours, which amounts to Rs28,000 spent for every hour the helicopters were used.

NAB had claimed that had Mr Khan used a private company’s choppers, it would have cost him an hourly fare of between Rs1m and Rs1.2m for Mi-171, and between Rs0.5m and Rs0.6m for Ecureuil.

The report claims that Mr Khan should have paid the KP government Rs11.1m, but official documents only mention payments of Rs2.1 million.

The chairman had also asked the KP NAB director general to find out if the former chief minister had the power to hand over ‘sensitive’ assets such as helicopters for non-governmental usage.

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