Thursday Jan 13, 2022
LONDON: A British-Pakistani businessman and former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) candidate for the 2018 elections has come forward to defend TikTok star Hareem Shah after Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) decided to launch a money-laundering probe against her.
Shah has recently come under fire after she released a video on social media in which she could be seen flaunting stacks of British pounds. In the clip, she claimed that she had successfully carried a hefty sum of money from Pakistan to the United Kingdom as against the law.
On Thursday, former PTI leader Daniyal Malik issued a statement in Shah's defence, saying that "the bundles of cash in UK sterling pounds that Hareem Shah [flaunted] in her social media video belonged to me and there was no money-laundering of any kind".
During an interview with Geo.tv, in East London, where Hareem Shah is staying these days with her cousin on vacation, Malik said that the cash of thousands of pounds seen in the video was legitimate and clean and he had handed over the cash to Hareem just to make a “fun video”.
Malik stood on PTI’s ticket in the elections of 2018 for PTI NA 68 Gujarat against Hussain Elahi and Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali. He lost the election and returned to the UK to run his marketing and money-transfer business.
Standing alongside Shah, Malik said the cash belonged to his "legitimate business" and confirmed that the "cash has been deposited in the bank since then with receipts and all legal requirements."
Malik, who runs a real estate and money exchange business in East London’s Leytonstone area, challenged the government of Pakistan to catch the real money-laundering dons.
Malik said: “I have stood as PTI’s candidate and fought hard for the ideal of the party. I am a Sadiq and Ameen and everyone knows that in Gujrat and I need no introduction. This was my business money. Hareem is like my baby sister. She was visiting me and saw the cash in my hands which I was going to deposit in the bank. She asked me if she could make a video and I said that’s fine. That’s the whole story. It’s impossible to get such a large amount scanned through at the airports."
Malik added that he has "felt let down by the PTI government for failing to deliver the promises it made."
Malik said that he had nothing to hide. “I had raised the issue on record when I was asked by two party leaders to pay bribes and I refused. I have met Imran Khan and donated money but things have changed now.”
Malik said he will support Shah at every forum. He asked Federal Minister Sheikh Rasheed and others to go after the "real law violators instead of targeting Shah solely because she had criticised the poor performance of the government."
In the original video, the TikTok star could be seen sitting down with two stacks of British pounds. Showing off the money, the social media star said that this was the first time she had carried a "hefty amount" from Pakistan to London.
Lamenting the recent depreciation of the Pakistani currency, Shah also said that people feel "sad" when they get rupees converted into euros or dollars.
"The government had promised to increase the [value] of the currency, increase the [value] of the [Pakistani] passport, but they didn't do anything. They could only talk," she had said.
The TikTok star then went on to say that those intending to travel with significant sums of money should be "careful". "They catch you," she said, adding that there was a difference in her case.
"Nobody said anything to me and, you know, they cannot. I got away very easily," she said, adding that in Pakistan, the laws are only applied to the poor.
When the furore erupted in Pakistani media, Shah clarified that the video was made for fun purposes only.
The FIA said it has decided to write a letter to the UK's National Crime Agency to take action against Shah whose real name is Fiza Husain but Shah said: "The FIA can write a letter to anyone it wants because there is no case and nothing wrong happened."
Shah said she will be travelling to Pakistan in a few weeks and nobody can stop her from being in her motherland. She said the government was overreacting to the video, showing that it "doesn’t have better things to do."
She said that the government was targeting her because she had expressed solidarity with the victims of the Murree tragedy and questioned why the government had done nothing to save the lives of nearly two dozen innocent people who froze to death in Murree.
Shah said she had lamented that the value and ranking of the Pakistani passport has gone down and inflation was killing poor people and that’s the reason why she is being targeted.
She also said that she will continue to speak the truth and nobody can stop her from doing that. “I have never done anything illegal. I will always follow the law but the government functionaries need to relax and do their job to help the masses.”
Shah is currently visiting London and will be taking part in meet and greet events of the British-Pakistani community. She has a large fan following and has been in headlines on a regular basis.