LONDON: Former federal minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s ally Moonis Elahi has been residing abroad for nearly three months and he has no plans to return to Pakistan in the immediate future due to “political victimisation”.
Moonis left for Spain in the last week of December last year and spent nearly a month there. After that, he travelled to London, spent time with his family, and returned to Spain.
He was seen in London two weeks ago with his family but it’s understood he is currently in Spain — from where he has been directing his party affairs, including the key decision to merge his faction of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid into the PTI.
Questions have been asked about where exactly he is and why he is not returning to Pakistan. Sources close to him have said that Moonis has been keeping a low profile in Europe for security reasons.
He has not engaged in any public political events after leaving Pakistan with a group of friends in a private plane, per the pictures that had gone viral. A source close to him said he has been advised not to disclose his location to anyone.
Speaking to Geo News over the phone, Moonis said he would be back in Pakistan soon but claimed it was clear that the current government was involved in his victimisation.
Moonis said that several fake cases have been registered against him and people close to his father, former Punjab chief minister Pavez Elahi, have disappeared and illegally kidnapped.
Through social media, Moonis has raised the issue of targeting people linked with him and his father. On the weekend, he had said his cousin went missing while travelling to Mandi Bahauddin from Gujrat.
This week, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) issued a call-up notice to Moonis. The anti-graft watchdog said it had called Moonis because it is probing irregularities in the transfers and contracts of the Punjab Communication and Works Department.
The notice stated that kickbacks had been received in the tenders of the highways division. It added that Moonis will be questioned for the alleged irregularities.
Moonis said that dirty tricks were being used against him for political reasons. “These are pressure tactics. We have been under pressure to change loyalties and stay away from Imran Khan but we stand by him and will continue to do so,” he said.
The ex-federal minister said the case is ludicrous because NAB has accused him of being present in a meeting along with Ali Sahi where Muhamad Khan Bhatti was also present and some alleged conversation took place.
“An engineer, in this case, was picked up, he was tortured and made to record a false statement against me. These are political cases and have no value,” said Moonis.
Moonis said that the decision to merge PML-Q into PTI was made after a lot of discussions within PML-Q and the Chaudhary family. “We have made this decision in principle.”
“Imran Khan wanted us to join him. We were with him anyway. Now our alliance is more formal and we are one. My father Parvez Elahi has been made PTI’s President for the whole of Pakistan and that’s a good decision by Imran Khan,” said Moonis Elahi.
This is a big turnaround of events for Moonis, PML-Q, and Khan.
It was in the middle of 2020 that Khan’s government was hunting for Moonis and Assets Recovery Unit — under Shahzad Akbar and with approval from Khan — was asking the UK govt as well as the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to trace any assets of Moonis to fix him.
The News had reported in September 2020 how the Pakistan High Commission in London was receiving daily calls from Pakistan to get the UK government to investigate and find assets of Moonis, Elahi, Chaudhary Shujaat, or any of the other family members.
At least two requests were sent to the British government to assist in the pursuit of assets tracing and Pakistan High Commission officials were asked to carry out their own enquiries too.
Interestingly, the federal government under Khan had sent the first request to the UK government’s Home Office soon after the PTI and PML-Q entered into a powerful coalition in Punjab and the centre.
That request was on behalf of NAB and another investigating agency. A similar letter was also sent to the British Virgin Islands, seeking to trace out the alleged assets of Moonis.
Both the Home Office and the BVI informed Pakistani officials that they were unable to trace assets but the ARU continued its efforts — until the situation improved between the Cahudharies and the PTI govt.
A source in the ARU had said that it was running the case based on the ICIJ report in April 2013 that Moonis Elahi was a shareholder of a British Virgin Islands offshore company called Olive Grove Assets Ltd, set up with the help of Swiss bank UBS.
Later on, the same source in ARU said that its efforts had yielded no results and the UK govt and the BVI didn’t return what they had been asked to.
Moonis had then told The News that all his assets and investments have been duly declared in his tax returns. He had added he was not surprised that the federal government was targeting its own allies for some unexplained reasons.