Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said that Chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Imran Khan, has built up a narrative of chor and daku (thieves and bandits) which has created hatred among the people.

Talking to Geo News’ programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath” on Wednesday, the minister said that Khan has multiple times raised slogans and accusations of bandits and robbers against him. He said that his reputation was destroyed however after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled in his favour, he is now free of all charges.

On the show, Iqbal also recalled an incident where PTI supporters harassed him and hurled accusations of ‘chor chor’ (thief) at him. The minister said: “They did it because of Khan’s narrative against me.”

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High Court gives a clean shit to Iqbal

IHC acquitted Ahsan Iqbal in a reference filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), accusing Iqbal of misusing authority by funding a provincial government project Narowal Sports City.

During the hearing on Wednesday, NAB’s Additional Prosecutor General Jahanzeb Khan Bharwana was absent. The court asked the NAB investigator to outline where the alleged corruption had taken place, to which the official said that Bharwana was to present his arguments but he was not present in the court.

When NAB asked for an adjournment, IHC Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah denied the request.

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It came to light that NAB started the proceedings based on a report published in a newspaper. Justice Minallah then inquired about the newspaper on the basis of which the case was registered. NAB officials identified the paper as Metrowatch.

The judge further inquired about the details of the newspaper, and what its report stated, and instructed the official to read it out loud.

“Did the NAB chairman check the accuracy of the facts? A case of corruption related to a public welfare project was started on this basis?” the chief justice questioned incredulously.

Justice Minallah said that if the case was initiated on the basis of a Metrowatch report then why was the person responsible for restarting the project in 2009 not arrested? He noted that Iqbal was not even a public officeholder at the time.

Subsequently, the court dismissed the case against Iqbal.

In 2019, Iqbal was arrested by NAB and remained in custody for two months.

In April, Iqbal filed a petition in the high court, alleging that NAB had filed the reference against him as part of the then-ruling PTI’s campaign to victimise political opponents.