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FT report on PTI’s foreign funding causes storm

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.

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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.

Read more: PTI only party with legal system for funding: Fawad Chaudhry

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.

“$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.

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.

Read more: PM Shehbaz Sharif urges ECP to announce veridict on PTI’s funding case

“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.

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.