Prohibited funding and the fate of PTI | By Tariq Aqil

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Prohibited funding and the fate of PTI 

ALMOST eight years after the case was filed by a founder member of the PTI Akbar S Babur one ime right hand man of Imran Khan and in charge of the party finances, the Election Commission of Pakistan finally announced its verdict stating categorically that the PTI indeed received prohibited funding and issued a show cause notice to the party.

This ruling of the ECP is a damning indictment of a political party that claims to be a party believing in the rule of law and its politics is based on Islamic principles to achieve the lofty goals as enshrined in the example of Riasat-i-Madina.

There is absolutely no doubt about the ruling that the party received unauthorized and illegal funds from foreign nationals in complete and total violation of the law of the land.

The PTI has also been charged with mis-declaration of sources of funds including business entities from the US, Britain, UAE, Australia and India.

Considering all the facts in the verdict there is nothing surprising in this ruling of the ECP and the nation awaits with abated breadth what now?

This may be the start of a long thorny court battle once again dragging the superior judiciary into a purely political conflict and polarizing the society further to more dangerous levels.

The case has finally been concluded what should have been an open and shut case, after eight years of delays due to many interventions political and legal.

Pakistan unfortunately is a country where politicians and top political leaders have been accused in the past of receiving money from Osama Bin Laden to destabilize an elected government and later on it was proved that a whole group of political parties were funded by the intelligence agencies and a group called Islami Jamhoori Ittehad was formed.

Ironically nobody was taken to task for getting money from a terrorist leader or being funded by intelligence agencies but a former Prime Minister was disqualified for life for not receiving salary from his son because this amounted to being less than the standard of honesty required by the constitution or not being Sadiq and Ameen.

If the rule of law is to be upheld and if the Supreme Court ousted Nawaz Sharif on not being Sadiq and Ameen then the same rule applies to Imran Khan and he should also face the full weight of the law.

Article 6 of the Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, clarifies who can be a donor/contributor to a political party, what is prohibited funding and the fate of prohibited funding.

It is clearly stated that no foreign national, Government or agency can fund a political party in Pakistan.

If prohibited funding is proved as per PPO Article 6(4) the said funds are to be confiscated by the state.

In the case of the PTI their funds have been proven to have come from undisclosed and prohibited sources.

They should have been confiscated immediately by the State but ironically this has not been done and another show cause notice has been issued to the party resulting in the PTI social media team whipping up a storm in a tea cup.

Before the announcement of the ECP verdict the charges against the PTI were strongly reinforced by the publication of an investigative report in the Financial Times of London.

This report clearly stated that the Abraaj Group headed by the Pakistani business tycoon Arif Naqvi had collected millions of dollars in the name of charity and this amount was later transferred to the accounts of the PTI in Pakistan and the long list of donors included many foreigners.

It is a known fact that Abraaj Group headed by Arif Naqvi, a close friend and confidant of Imran Khan, was a major donor of the PTI.

Imran Khan has never denied his close friendship with Arif Naqvi who is now in prison in the UK and accused of misappropriation of funds and serious irregularities in his Dubai-based multi-billion dollar private finance and equity firm.

The American government has also asked for the extradition of Arif Naqvi and this Financial Times report has proved to be a severe blow to the defence of the charges by the PTI.

Imran Khan and his cohorts as expected are now denying any legal or political consequences of the ruling by the ECP.

They believe this verdict is in no way damaging to the party’s image or the popularity of Imran Khan.

Political analysts believe this verdict definitely brings into question the moral superiority claimed by Imran Khan and negates the PTI narrative of “Imported Government” and the “American Conspiracy” to oust the PTI government.

This verdict may or may not effect Imran Khan’s popularity or his support base but it definitely raises some serious questions about his honesty, integrity and adherence to the law and democratic principles which he never stops shouting from the roof tops.

Imran Khan is capable of breaking the law and violating the Constitution again and again with impunity when it serves his purpose.

This ruling of the ECP has definitely polarized our society and the political tensions have been further aggravated and there is danger that the authority of the State institutions will be further weakened and the political process suffer.

—The writer is Professor of History, based in Islamabad.

 

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