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Did Nawaz Sharif receive funding from Osama bin Laden?

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has conceded before the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that it had received funds from the Al Qaeda founder, but said the transaction of the 90s is beyond the scope of audit by the panel, claimed Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Farrukh Habib on Wednesday.

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has conceded before the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that it had received funds from the Al Qaeda founder, but said the transaction of the 90s is beyond the scope of audit by the panel, claimed Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Farrukh Habib on Wednesday.

Talking to reporters after hearings of foreign funding cases against the PML-N and PPP by the scrutiny committee, he said that former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif laid the foundation of foreign funding in Pakistan by receiving funds from Osama bin Laden to topple Benazir Bhutto’s government.

Nawaz received funding, ex. diplomat

Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Abida Hussain on Saturday revealed that slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden had supported and funded former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif.

“Yes, he (Osama bin Laden) supported Mian Nawaz Sharif at one time. However, that is a complicated story. He (Osama) used to extend financial assistance [to Nawaz Sharif],” she said in an interview with a private television channel.

Abida, also an ex-cabinet member of Nawaz Sharif’s government, recalled that at one time bin Laden was popular and liked by everyone including the Americans but at a later stage, he was treated as a ‘stranger’.

PML-N rubbishes the allegations

PML-N lawyer Jehangir Jadoon criticised the PTI for the talk about PML-N receiving funds from Osama bin Laden. He said the ECP committee was scrutinising funds received over the last five years only, and the mention of a 1990s saga was irrelevant at this stage.

PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, while talking to reporters, claimed that the PTI had concealed details of its 18 bank accounts.

The PML-N leader said that the PTI would be made accountable on the foreign funding issue at any cost. He said that the lawyer of the PTI had suggested to the scrutiny committee to hide all information. “Dramas of government functionaries have been exposed now,” Mr Iqbal said.

Foreign funding case against PTI

Notably, PTI’s founding member Akbar S. Babar had filed the case in 2014, alleging that nearly $3 million in illegal foreign funds were collected through two offshore companies and that money was sent through illegal ‘hundi‘ channels from the Middle East to accounts of ‘PTI employees’. He had also alleged that the foreign accounts used to collect funds were concealed from the annual audit reports submitted to the ECP.

Read More: Supreme Court straight-shooting at Hanif Abbasi!

A scrutiny committee was formed in March last year to complete an audit of PTI’s funding sources in one month. Its mandate was later extended for an indefinite period.

Foreign Funding Case: Supreme Court’s Landmark Judgment

It is worth noting that the Supreme Court has already discussed in detail the question of foreign funding in its 2017 judgment on a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi, who had sought disqualification of Imran Khan.

The SC bench led by the former chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar while making a distinction between a ‘foreign aided’ party and ‘prohibited funding’ referred the case on December 16, 2017, to the ECP for a probe.

The judgment had noted that it is the duty of the ECP to scrutinize accounts of political parties on the touchstone of Article 6(3) of the PPO read in the light of Article 17(3) of the Constitution.

The PML-N counsel Akram Sheikh had submitted that the PTI is a ‘foreign-aided’ political party in terms of Article 2(c) (iii) of the Political Parties Ordinance (PPO) 2002 as it received contributions prohibited under Article 6(3) thereof read with Article 17(3) of the Constitution.

Mr. Akram had argued that despite the above-stated position, Imran Khan personally issued certificates to the ECP in terms of Article 13(2) of the PPO to the effect that PTI does not receive funds from prohibited sources, meaning thereby that it is not a foreign-aided political party.

The PML-N’s lawyer wanted the court to disqualify Imran Khan for not being honest and truthful. “These certificates make misdeclaration of fact and thus the respondent (Imran Khan) has proven himself to be not sagacious, righteous, honest or ameen. He is, therefore, liable to be disqualified from holding elective office or being elected thereto under Articles 62(1) (f) and (g), and 63(1)(p) of the Constitution,” he had said.

However, the apex court in its judgment had noted that it is not the case that the PTI was formed or organized at the instance of any government or political party of a foreign country or is affiliated to or associated with any government or political party of a foreign country, or receives any aid, financial or otherwise, from any government or political party of a foreign country.

Read more: PTI goes to the SC over PML-N foreign funding

Rather, the allegation is that PTI has been receiving financial contribution and/or a portion of its funds from foreign nationals as not only the directors of the PTI USA LLC are American citizens, but contributions have been collected from individuals and the companies that are admittedly foreign nationals.