‘Busy’ Imran Khan skips NAB hearing in helicopter scandal case

  • Babar Awan request anti-graft buster to fix the case for Aug 8 as party chief is busy in election campaign

PESHAWAR – Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan would not appear before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in a case pertaining to misuse of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government helicopter due to a busy schedule ahead of polls.

The NAB KP had summoned Imran Khan in the helicopter scandal case on July 18, but his counsel, Babar Awan has sent a letter to the anti-graft watchdog requesting it to fix the case for August 18.

Awan said that the party chief is busy in the election campaign as the general elections are around the corner. Sources claimed that the probe body is likely to re-schedule the case.

In a statement, the PTI welcomed NAB’s investigation into alleged misuse of helicopter and stated that it always supports fair probe.

The KP government had denied that Khan had used any official helicopter for his private or personal use.

On Feb 2, the chairman of NAB, Javed Iqbal directed KP Director General (DG) Naveed Haider to ascertain how former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak handed over his official helicopter to someone else and find out if the same was repeated with other individuals.

On Feb 3, Imran Khan said that the KP government had made clear that there was never any personal or private use of government helicopters by him. He also said that NAB was most welcome to examine the issue.

A joint investigation team (JIT), headed by KP DG, was set up to investigate the matter.

On January 29, a private TV channel reported that the KP government spent millions of rupees on Imran’s use of the provincial government’s helicopters.

Imran Khan is the chairman of the party – PTI – which runs the provincial government after it came to power in 2013 elections.

In addition, the provincial NAB chief has been tasked to determine if the KP-CM misused his authority.

Documents from the KP administration department show that the PTI chairperson used the KP government’s helicopters free of charge for a total of 74 hours to travel approximately 18,000 kilometres, the NAB statement said.

The provincial government recorded in its books a total expense of Rs2.1 million at approximately Rs28,865 per hour for Khan’s 40 trips on the two helicopters – an Mi-17 and an Ecureuil.

Similar trips using a private helicopter would have cost the PTI chairperson nearly Rs11.1 million, according to the statement.

Khan used the Mi-17 for 21 hours 50 minutes on 12 trips amounting to a recorded expense of Rs1.270.

Similarly, he used the Ecureuil helicopter 28 times for a total of 52 hours and 5 minutes, amounting to a recorded expense of Rs0.837m.

Combined, Khan used both helicopters for a total of 73 hours and 55 minutes, resulting in an expense of Rs2.107m recorded by the provincial government.

The PTI chief, whose party governs Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, used the helicopters to fly to and from Bani Gala, Islamabad, Mardan, Peshawar, Abbottabad, Haripur, Swat and Nathiagali, Kohat, Batagram, and Chakdara, among other places.

However, in its documents, the administration department mentioned the purpose of the flights as “official use and urgent nature of work”.

The press release further states that NAB has started the inquiry so that official helicopters are not misused in the future.