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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

PTI’s foreign funding case: A crisis in making?

As ECP has ordered to hear PTI’s foreign funding case on a daily basis, some analysts believe that it may lead to a serious political crisis in Pakistan. However, the premier is confident and advised his members not to worry about the case.

Chief Election Commission (CEC) has ordered to conduct the hearing of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) foreign funding case on a daily basis. The development seems to be important while keeping into consideration the dynamics of political uncertainty in Pakistan. Political commentators believe that the party may have to face some legal consequences if it fails to satisfy the commission.

Opposition leaders submitted the application

The opposition’s Rehbar Committee on Wednesday submitted a memorandum to the secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) demanding that a case regarding the scrutiny of ruling PTI’s foreign funds be heard on a daily basis.

The memorandum was submitted following a meeting of the opposition committee with the secretary of the ECP. Various opposition leaders including JUI-F leader Akram Durrani, PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal, PPP stalwart Farhatullah Babar, and Nayyar Bukhari participated in the meeting as well as the protest that followed.

Speaking to media outside the ECP, Durrani said: “Our demand is that the case be heard on a daily basis so that there isn’t a delay in it.”

The PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurengzeb threw a challenge on Prime Minister Imran Khan to appear before the ECP in person in the foreign funding case if there was nothing to hide, instead of employing delaying tactics. She also sought an explanation from him over 23 ‘illegal accounts’ and asked him to make public through a tweet as to how much taxes he, his present and ex-wives and children had paid and how much assets they owned.

Read more: PTI’s foreign funds to be audited

Moreover, she claimed that Imran Khan had paid just Rs4.7 million in taxes over the last 36 years. She said Mr. Khan had paid just Rs103,763 in taxes in 2017. She wondered why he had not declared foreign bank accounts in the name of his ex-spouses and children.

“PPP and PML-N should worry about their fate”

Prime Minister Imran Khan reportedly told his party leaders not to worry about the foreign funding case. He was speaking to party spokespersons on Wednesday.

“We have already filed applications in the ECP for probing the party funding of PPP and PML-N; therefore, we demand that the commission should hear cases of three parties at the same time and not single out PTI,” Mr. Khan was quoted as saying “Party members should not be worried regarding the foreign funding case because party funds have already been audited and their reports have been presented before the courts,” he added.

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan said Imran Khan was of the view that the ECP could try any case, but it was the government request to hear cases of all three major parties — PTI, PML-N, and PPP simultaneously.

Parliamentary Secretary for Railways Farrukh Habib criticized the opposition parties saying that the PML-N and PPP should worry about answering about the foreign funding from the US and UK.

Read more: Reham Khan Accused PM Khan Of Receiving Illegal Money

Farukh Habib said both parties, the PML-N and PPP, are reluctant to present their financial statements to the Election Commission. The ECP’s Scrutiny Committee will examine both parties’ accounts on November 26, he added.

In a statement, he expressed that there is indisputable evidence of money laundering through party accounts of the PML-N. “Party accounts used for money laundering must be investigated”, he asserted, adding that he won’t let both parties escape.

History of the case

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.

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.

Read more: ECP vs Khan: PTI submits its financial records of the last 7 years

In October, the ECP had rejected four applications filed by PTI seeking secrecy during the scrutiny of its foreign funding sources.