Pervez Saleem (Producer/Director)

Prohibited funding was taken by PTI, rules ECP

The security in Islamabad’s ‘red zone’ was put on high alert ahead of the ECP’s verdict. It has been decided to deploy 1,000 police personnel in the area, and the anti-riot force will also remain in the red zone. Unrelated persons will not be able to enter the Red zone.

As time for the verdict drew closer, footage broadcast on television showed Islamabad police with riot shields standing outside the building as staffers can be seen unrolling spools of concertina wire.

‘Imran is out’
Ahead of the verdict, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said in accordance with previous court decisions, the ECP was meant to decide the cases against all three main political parties — the PTI, the PPP and the PML-N — at the same time.

“Political decisions will be made by the people, not the ECP. The real decision.

The petitioner in the case, former PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, however, said that in his eyes “Imran [Khan] is out”.

“It is yet to be decided whether he is clean-bowled or caught at slip,” he said while speaking to the media outside the ECP office. He vowed to see the case to its end, adding that the victory would be of the people of Pakistan.

He also said that the “war” would not end at this stage and vowed to take this matter to the apex court and the people.

The prohibited funding case
The prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — was filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar and has been pending since November 14, 2014.
Babar, who is no longer associated with PTI, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

The PTI has, however, denied any wrongdoing and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was constituted to examine the PTI’s financing.

The committee submitted its report on January 4, after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

The report confirmed that the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts.

It also mentioned a refusal by the party to divulge details of large transactions and the panel’s helplessness to get details of PTI’s foreign accounts and the funds collected abroad.

It further called into question the certificate, signed by PTI chairperson Imran Khan, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

According to the report, the party under-reported an amount of Rs312 million over a four-year period, between FY2009-10 and FY2012-13. Year-wise details show that an amount of over Rs145m was under-reported in FY2012-13 alone.

The report also referred to the controversy over allowing four PTI employees to receive donations in their personal accounts, but said it was out of the scope of its work to probe their accounts.

PTI-ECP discord
The verdict is being announced amid renewed calls by the PTI for the CEC’s removal after the ECP reserved its judgement in the case and comes days after an investigative report published in the Financial Times revealed how 2.12m dollars collected in the United Kingdom through a charity cricket match landed in PTI’s accounts, exposing the role played by business tycoon Arif Naqvi in the process.

For months, Imran has been persistent in his demand for CEC Raja’s resignation, accusing him of being biased towards the PML-N.

Editorial: Imran vs the CEC

He has alleged that CEC was “incompetent” and “dishonest”.

“We don’t trust the ECP head and he has been imposed on us. We don’t have confidence in you … you are a biased person in cahoots with a political party,” Imran said at a press conference last month.

Last week, the PTI also decided to move a reference against CEC Raja in the judicial commission. The party also got resolutions against the CEC passed from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtun­khwa Assemblies, where it has the majority.

At a party meeting on Monday, Imran announced a protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Thursday (August 4) and urged supporters to demand the CEC’s resignation.

Meanwhile, parties in the ruling coalition, particularly the PML-N and PPP, see the PTI’s criticism of the CEC as an attempt to pressure the electoral watchdog into announcing a verdict in its favour.

When the PTI announced its decision last week to move a reference against the CEC, ECP officials and the PPP had termed it an ‘attempt to blackmail’ the commission.

Coalition presses ECP to pass judgment
For their party, the ruling coalition has been urging the ECP to announce a verdict in the case without any further delay.

On Saturday, a delegation of the ruling alliance, comprising members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, PPP, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, had met ECP officials and urged them to release the verdict in the case.

Speaking to the media outside the commission’s office in Islamabad, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said “justice merits immediate action, according to the law and due process, whenever there’s an issue.”

The former prime minister had also said that Babar had presented “clear evidence” in the case eight years ago when it had first surfaced.

Since then, the PTI had tried to hamper the case by all means, he had alleged, and accused the party of exerting “government pressure” on the ECP during its tenure, as well as “political pressure” following its ouster.

Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also urged the ECP to announce its judgment on the long-delayed case last week.

“(The) foreign funding case is an example of how ‘Ladla’ (blue-eyed boy) is being protected. While NS (Nawaz Sharif) was convicted for not taking salary, ‘Ladla’ is untouchable. 8 years on, decision is still elusive. Imran Niazi filed 9 writ petitions in IHC & got 50 adjournments in the FF case,” the PM had tweeted.

Shehbaz Sharif@CMShehbaz
Foreign funding case is an example of how ‘Ladla’ is being protected. While NS was convicted for not taking salary, ‘Ladla’ is untouchable. 8 years on, decision is still elusive. Imran Niazi filed 9 writ peitions in IHC & got 50 adjournments in the FF case.

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