ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Election Commission (EC) ruled on Tuesday that former Prime Minister Imran KhanPakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is “willing to receive” $2,121,500 in prohibited funding from abroad and asked the party in an official notice why the money should not be confiscated. It also requires the party leadership to run undeclared bank accounts.
A three-member EC bench headed by Commission Director Raja Sikandar Sultan stated in a unanimous ruling that PTI has received funding from foreign companies and individuals from the US, UK, Australia , UAE and other countries is against the law.
Union leaders in office welcomed the ruling, saying the law would go into effect. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said there was no illegality and most of the funds came from Pakistanis abroad. He vowed to challenge the order in the Supreme Court.
The EC noted that Khan’s PTI “knowingly and intentionally” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, which is run by Arif Naqvi, a Pakistani-born business magnate. Additionally, the team received donations from UAE-based Bristol Technical Services, Electronic Planetary Commission, registered in the Cayman Islands, SS Marketing Manchester based in the UK, PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975.
The EC said it received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company as well as from Australia-based Dunpec Limited and Pakistani companies Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Youth sports violate the law.
“PTI Pakistan, through the fundraising campaigns of PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, has received donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. The collection of grants and contributions from foreign nationals and companies is prohibited and violates Pakistani law,” it said.
Election watchdog says PTI has been found to be a beneficiary of donations made by Romita Shettyan Indian-American businesswoman.
The commission found PTI guilty of concealing 13 bank accounts associated with the party. This party only declares eight accounts before commission. “Data obtained from State Bank of Pakistan shows that all 13 accounts rejected by PTI were opened and operated by PTI leadership and senior management at [a] central and provincial levels,” the EC said.
The committee noted that the party made no mention of three other accounts being run by its senior leadership. It holds PTI leadership accountable for the “serious lapses” of the failure to disclose and conceal 16 bank accounts in violation of Article 17(3) of the Constitution. “Every political party must account for its funding in accordance with the law,” says Article 17 (3).
The EC found documents submitted by PTI Director Imran Khan over the five years (2008-2013) to be “totally inaccurate based on the financial statements obtained by this committee from SBP and other documents relevant to the available on file”.
It said the issue fell within the scope of the 2002 Political Parties Order (PPO). “Therefore, the committee directs that a notice may be given to the respondent as to why the aforementioned prohibited funds may not be confiscated. The Office is also directed to take any other action under the law under this commission’s order, including referring the case to the federal government. ”
PTI Akbar founding member Sher Babar, who was at odds with Khan and petitioned the EC in 2014, said his argument had been accepted and asked the former Prime Minister to resign from the party. Babar said he will continue to pursue the case until a reasonable conclusion. “The PTI foreign funding case is as guilty as charged,” he said in a tweet.
Elected Prime Minister of the country in 2018, Khan was removed from office through a vote of no confidence in parliament last April. He said he was ousted in a US-funded conspiracy and was rallying his supporters for new elections, due in 2023.