–Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari appointed as special assistant on overseas Pakistanis
–NAB is probing Zulfi for owning off-shore companies in British Virgin Islands and owning assets beyond known source of income
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed his close friend Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, also known as Zulfi Bukhari, as his Special Assistant on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development with the status of minister of state.
The Cabinet Division has also issued a notification with regards to the appointment.
“In terms of rule 4(6) of the Rules of Business, 1973 read with serial number 1A of Schedule-VA of the said Rules, the Prime Minister has been pleased to appoint, with effect from 14th September, 2018, Sayed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari as Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development, with the status of Minister of State,” read the notification.
The federal cabinet is now 32-member strong after Bukhari’s appointment.
Bukhari is a close aide to the prime minister and was in charge of the PTI chairman’s campaign in NA-53 for the July 25, 2018 elections. A dual British-Pakistani national, his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the Interior Ministry in August on a request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
He is accused of owning off-shore companies in the British Virgin Islands and owning assets beyond his known source of income, according to NAB.
Bukhari had come into the limelight earlier this year when he was stopped by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) at Nur Khan Airbase while accompanying Khan to Saudi Arabia because his name was on the Interior Ministry’s blacklist. However, the ministry allowed him to travel abroad minutes later.
Upon his return, Bukhari filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court seeking the removal of his name from the blacklist. The court accepted his petition and ordered the removal of his name from the blacklist.
A week later, the court was informed by the interior ministry that Bukhari was placed on the blacklist as a precautionary measure in response to a request from NAB to include his name on the ECL, because the subcommittee tasked with approving the inclusion of names in the ECL was dysfunctional at the time the request was sent.
The IHC subsequently allowed the interior ministry to proceed with NAB’s request to place Bukhari on the ECL.
Moreover, despite having a dual nationality, Pakistani law doesn’t bar Zulfi from assuming the office of special assistant to prime minister because he is not a parliamentarian.
IMRAN DEFENDS ZULFI:
Earlier, PM Khan had defended Zulfi in a TV interview, saying that the NAB has no jurisdiction to probe him [Zulfi] since all his business is based in the UK.
“If Zulfi Bukhari’s name has appeared in the Panama papers, it is not NAB’s job to investigate him. UK’s inland revenue authorities should be investigating him since all his business is located over there.”
The anchor asked Khan if he knew the nature of Zulfi’s business to which the now PM said he had no idea what his friend for the last seven years did for a living.