A recent article by a UK-based publication called the Financial Times has caused quite the storm in Pakistan as it is being considered an “expose” on PTI’s foreign funding case.
Titled “The Strange Case of the Cricket Match that Helped Fund Imran Khan’s Political Rise“, the investigative article reveals how Abraaj founder Arif Naqvi’s Cayman Islands-incorporated company Wootton Cricket Ltd was used to bankroll PTI after receiving funds from companies and individuals including at least £2mn in April 2013 from an influential Arab figure.
According to the FT report, Imran Khan was invited to a cricket match where guests were asked to pay between £2,000 and £2,500 each to attend. Quoting Naqvi, the report added that the money went to unspecified “philanthropic causes” which turned out to be PTI.
Right about now, Pakistan’s insafians will be saying good morning to everyone except the Financial Times. https://t.co/aO0aoA86HU
— Michael Kugelman (@MichaelKugelman) July 29, 2022
Important to note that political parties in Pakistan are not permitted to receive funding from foreign nationals and companies. The report said the PTI received foreign funding ahead of the 2013 general elections when Imran Khan needed funding the most.
Reaction to FT report
Interestingly, the FT report has divided Pakistan with those critical of Imran Khan claiming that there should be legal action against PTI, especially with plans of a possible early general election in the making. Government figures, for instance, Minister for Climate Change and PPP leader Sherry Rehman, also shared the article.
Financial Times says Arif Naqvi transferred 3 instalments directly to the PTI in 2013 totalling of $2.12mn. The largest was the $1.3mn from Abraaj which company documents show was transferred to Wootton Cricket for charity but charged to holding company.
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) July 29, 2022
“$1.3 million was transferred from the account directly to a PTI bank account, FT reveals. What else? Open and Shut [case],” Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted.
$1.3mn was transferred from the account directly to a PTI bank account in Pakistan: @FT reveals.
— Rana Sanaullah Khan (@PresPMLNPunjab) July 29, 2022
Another crucial point about Financial times story on PTI foreign funding is that Wooton Cricket LTD, company which funnelled foreign funds to PTI, is incorporated as offshore company in Cayman Islands. IK created hue and cry over ‘offshore’ companies. He’s funded by one himself
— Omer Azhar (@OmerAzhar96) July 29, 2022
On the other hand, PTI members and its supporters have defended the party and Imran Khan. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry stated that Arif Naqvi submitted an affidavit to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) assuring that all funding is legal.
“Same affidavit he submitted to PTI, if there is any illegality then it is between Naqvi and the UK authorities,” Fawad Chaudhry tweeted. He also pointed out that the same FT article claimed that Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif were offered $20 million by Arif Naqvi.
1) Arif Naqvi submitted an affidavit in ECP that all funding is legal, same affidavit he submitted to PTI if there is any illegality it’s btw Naqvi n UK authorities.
2) Same story blatantly claim is 20 M USD paid to Sharifs as bribe by Arif Naqvi https://t.co/WK3DCtXh0O
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) July 29, 2022
PTI’s foreign funding case, which has been renamed to PTI “prohibited” funding case was filed by Akbar S Babar and has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Babar was a founding member of the PTI, but is no longer associated with it. He had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.
The PTI had, however, denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources. The ECP had reserved its verdict last month, but it has not been issued yet.