Govt urges early announcement of PTI funding case verdict

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Coalition delegation meets ECP chief

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Friday that a delegation comprising members of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan met Election Commission of Pakistan officials and urged them to release the verdict in the prohibited funding case against the PTI at the earliest in line with the electoral watchdog’s “constitutional responsibility”.

“We told the ECP today that it is their responsibility towards the people of Pakistan, their constitutional responsibility, to release this report (about the PTI’s funds) and take action accordingly,” Abbasi said while speaking to the media after meeting ECP members, including Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja. He said the delegation also conveyed to the ECP that it was the people’s right that the report was shared with them. The prohibited funding case, previously called the foreign funding case, was filed by Akbar S Babar and has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Babar, who was a founding member of the PTI but is no longer associated with it, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

The ECP had reserved its verdict in the case last month.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had also urged the ECP to announce its judgement on the long-delayed case. He again raised alarm over the delay in the verdict yesterday.

Along similar lines, Abbasi also highlighted the delay in the conclusion of the case in his presser and said “justice merits immediate action, according to the law and due process, whenever there’s an issue.”

In the meeting with ECP members, Abbasi continued, “We said that the election law in the country states that any party taking funding from a foreigner has to declare who gave it the money, when and how much.

“And no party has the authority to take funding from a foreign company.”

He questioned whether Imran had “sold his decisions” by taking money from foreign entities.

The former prime minister said Babar had presented “clear evidence” in the case eight years ago, when it had first surfaced. Since then, the PTI tried to hamper the case by all means, he alleged and accused the party of exerting “government pressure” on the ECP during its tenure, as well as “political pressure” following its ouster.

He further said the record submitted to the ECP thus far in the case had not been submitted by the PTI but obtained via the State Bank of Pakistan.

“And the status of accounts [whose record has been submitted] is also before you. The PTI denied having any knowledge of the accounts when the party president was running these accounts,” Abbasi added.

Abbasi claimed there were at least two companies operating as “foreign agents” in the US whose chairpersons’ name was Imran Khan.

“Any money coming to these companies is public record and you can see from whom and how much Imran took,” he said, questioning whether taking money in such a manner was in line with Pakistan’s laws.

“You cannot take money from a company because by doing so, you become its agent. And then you don’t decide in the country’s interest but in the interest of companies and individuals behind them,” he explained. “This is why our country’s law doesn’t allow any political party to take money from a foreign company.”

In light of this, “we told the ECP that the record is very clear and now you have to decide”, Abbasi said. “Isn’t it people’s right to know from whom a big political party has been taking money, how much has it been taking and when?”

He then went on to claim that a large sum of money related to the case was still abroad in personal accounts and reiterated that the PTI had used all tactics to prevent the case from being taken up by the ECP.

The PML-N leader said the PTI and Imran’s actions over the past eight years made it evident that “they took money from companies [abroad] and used it for politics”.

“And when you use someone’s money for politics, you have to pay a price. And it is people who pay this price,” Abbasi said.

He added that had Imran and the PTI not been guilty, they would have presented the entire record the very day the allegations were levelled and asked the ECP to decide the matter.

But “for eight years, you employed all tactics to keep the record hidden from people, to deceive the ECP and stop their process,” Abbasi said, adding that Imran continues to “attack” the ECP today as “he knows the reality of the foreign funding” case.

In reply to a question, Abbasi reiterated his call for the release of the ECP’s verdict.

“If a political party is doing politics after taking money from Jewish agents or anyone else — we don’t know who is behind these companies — people must know from where Imran has been getting money,” he commented. “This is my issue, this is your issue, this is the people’s issue.”

When asked whether the ECP had given a timeframe for releasing the verdict, Abbasi said the electoral watchdog had not specified any time.

“They said they are working on it, that there were hurdles in the past and that they will decide the matter and let the people know as it is their constitutional responsibility.”

 

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