PTI received prohibited funds from 34 foreign nationals & 351 companies based outside the country: ECP
ECP says Imran Khan for the five years under review has filed submissions which were grossly inaccurate & wrong
Bench of ECP directs commission to take further action in light of the verdict of the bench
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday ruled that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) received prohibited funds from 34 foreign nationals and 351 companies based outside the country.
The ECP bench in its reserved verdict said prohibited funding against PTI has been proven. A three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Dr. Sikander Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi announced the reserved verdict. The bench delivered the unanimous judgment.
The ECP in its verdict said PTI received funding from 34 foreign nations and the details of 13 accounts were not disclosed. The ECP also declared the statement on oath of former prime minister Imran Khan as ‘wrong’ and issued show cause notice to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. It is said that in the show cause notice why the prohibited funds collected by PTI from abroad should be confiscated. The bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan has directed the commission to take further action in light of the verdict of the bench. The ECP has also sent the copy of verdict to the federal government for the further action.
The case was filed by PTI founding member Akbar Sher Babar and was pending since November 14, 2014. Babar had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.
The development comes days after the ruling alliance, comprising members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, PPP, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, urged ECP to release the verdict in the case.
“The Commission directs that a notice may be issued to the Respondent party [PTI] in terms of Rule-6 of PPR 2002, as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The office is also directed to initiate any other action under the law, in light of this order of the Commission,” said the 68-page judgment.
The electoral watchdog also declared that 13 ‘unknown’ accounts have been found linked to the party and the submissions by Chairman PTI Imran Khan were ‘inaccurate and wrong’.
“This Commission is constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani Statutes. The chairman PTI has or successive five years (2008-2009 to 2012-2013) under review and examination has submitted form-1 and signed a certificate which is not consistent with accounting information before us which has been gathered and complied on the basis of information obtained from Banks through [the] State Bank of Pakistan,” said the judgment.
“Imran Khan for the five years under review has filed submissions which were grossly inaccurate and wrong. Even during the course of scrutiny and hearing by this Commission, the PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of source of its funds.”
Imran had personally issued certificates to the ECP in regards to Article 13(2) of the PPO to the effect that PTI “does not receive funds from prohibited sources,” meaning thereby that the PTI is not a foreign-aided political party.
The Commission further stated that the party “knowingly and willingly” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited which was operated by the now jailed tycoon Arif Naqvi. The PTI was a “willing recipient” of $2,121,500.
Other foreign-based companies which donated to the party include the UAE-based Bristol Engineering Services, Cayman Island registered E-Planet Trustees, Australia-based Dunpec Limited and the UK-based SS Marketing Manchester.
The Election Commission, in its verdict, also stated the party violated Article 17(3) (3) of the Constitution as the PTI failed to declare three bank accounts operated by the party’s senior leadership and the concealment of 16 bank accounts by the party was a serious lapse.
While reacting to the verdict, PTI founding member and the petitioner of the case Akbar Sher Babar said that there was no personal benefit for him in this case, rather the nation benefitted as Pakistani politics needed a pivotal change so that political parties were tested under the law. He thanked the ECP, stating that they had to trust and strengthen state institutions.
“We were tested many times over these past eight years but this very same Election Commission has agreed with all my arguments,” he said. Reiterating the decision of the electoral watchdog, Babar maintained that the ECP had agreed that the PTI received funding from foreign individuals and companies and that several certificates submitted by Imran were fake ones.
PTI leader and former minister for information and broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry thanked those who fought the case for the last eight years. “PTI is Pakistan’s only party that conducts proper public funding drives. No other political party does this,” he added.
He maintained that the case was about funding from 2008 to 2013 and that the PTI had collected approximately Rs3-4 billion, a major part of which came from overseas Pakistanis.
“I don’t understand why PML-N, PPP, JUI have made overseas Pakistanis their enemy when we consider them the backbone of our economy,” he said, adding that the party will still rely on them for funding.
PTI leader Farrukh Habib said that the party has maintained that “this was not a foreign funding case, this was a case about prohibited funding.” He further stated that those who propelled the narrative of the case being about “foreign funding” have been severely disappointed that the PTI was not banned, it has been only served a show-cause notice. “We will give a sufficient reply to the notice,” he added.
PTI leader Maleeka Ali Bokhari said, “Media groups against the PTI and the coalition parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) had lost hope.
She claimed that the PTI was not the kind of party to accept foreign funding, however, the “propaganda” against it was furthered for years.
She asked PDM leaders to show their bank accounts, alleging that Benazir Bhutto had said that the PML-N felled her government with Osama Bin Laden’s money and questioned why did the JUI-F had received funding from Libya’s Saif al-Islam Gaddafi.
Security in the federal capital was placed on high alert before the much-awaited verdict. Extra contingents of police and riot police forces were deployed to avoid any untoward incident.