ISLAMABAD: A day before the hearing of the Hanif Abbasi case against Imran Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) counsel regretted that the petitioner was trying to imply that members of the minority communities cannot be Pakistanis.

The argument came from PTI lawyer Anwar Mansoor, who was referring to the petitioner’s contention that foreign funds remitted to the party came from prohibited sources, with names like “Jadhav”.

“The references to persons who do not appear to be ‘Muslims’… and stating that minorities cannot be Pakistanis... is a slap on the face of the great minority communit[ies] of Pakistan,” the reply deplored.

The allegation that the names mentioned in the list of donors are not Pakistanis is tantamount to degrading the minority community of this country, its said.

A three-judge Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, will resume hearing the petition filed by the local Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader. Mr Abbasi has sought the disqualification of Imran Khan and PTI Secretary General Jahangir Tareen for the non-disclosure of assets, ownership of offshore companies and for PTI being a foreign-aided party.

On Saturday, the PTI chief furnished the money trail for his London flat, stating that none of the counties he had played professional cricket for maintained salary records beyond 20 years, therefore nothing was available.

PML-N leader points out ‘inconsistencies’ in money trail provided by Imran Khan

In its fresh application, the PTI reiterated that the party had not received any money from prohibited sources and that no money was received from foreigners.

Along with the reply, the PTI has also submitted its overseas financial accounts, letters regarding fund-raising and accounting policies, internal and external audit controls, a list of countries whose dual nationality is accepted in Pakistan, PTI by-laws, as well as a list of funds received from PTI-USA LLC.

The analysis of the petitioner was aimed at creating confusion and an impression that PTI is a “foreign-aided party” when it is not, the rejoinder claimed.

The reply argued that the minority communities of Pakistan had made this country great, and objected to the petitioner’s contention that names such as “Jadhav” in the list of PTI’s donors were not Pakistanis since they were not Muslim names.

“Such names exist in this wonderful country and they are Pakistani citizens,” the reply said, adding that the Constitution does not distinguish between a Muslim, a Christian or a Hindu where the word citizen is defined.

The allegation that the names mentioned are not Pakistanis is degrading the minority communities of this country, the reply stated, and called for the allegations to be proven.

The party also reiterated its stance that under articles 2(c)(iii) and 15 of the Political Parties Order (PPO) 2002, the federal government can determine that a certain party is a foreign funded or aided party, while the Supreme Court is the appellate forum.

It maintained that the party had completely disclosed its accounts, which were duly audited by an ‘A’-class accountancy firm in accordance with the PPO, in contrast to other parties.

The reply stated that at the time, the chief election commissioner (CEC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had never objected to the audited accounts, and therefore these were past and closed transactions that could not be re-opened.

The reply stated that Hanif Abbasi was a senior PML-N member, and the accounts of that party have also not been disclosed, despite the fact that they too have a fund-raising arm in the UK.

Likewise, the PPP has also not disclosed the sources of their funds abroad, the reply regretted.

Petitioner’s response

Mr Abbasi also filed a rejoinder with the court on Monday through his counsel Akram Sheikh, which highlighted inconsistencies in the money trail provided by the PTI chief and asked the court to disqualify him.

The rejoinder argued that Mr Khan’s concise statement had failed to provide a complete picture, since the letters attached with the reply pertained only to the period from 1977 to 1988, whereas no record or proof of earnings had been brought forth for the period 1971-1977.

Moreover, no substantive proof has been given to establish that income tax was deducted at source for Mr Khan’s earnings from cricket, and the only verification of his claim was a reluctant and dubious statement in one of the letters, the rejoinder emphasised.

The rejoinder questioned the reliability of the letters attached by Mr Khan, claiming that they were without any attestation, notarisation or other official endorsement.

The documents provided also fail to establish that Mr Khan remained outside Pakistan for more than 182 days, which would make him a “non-resident” for tax purposes.

Instead, the former cricketer’s own statement showed that the term of the contract for each season was not less than six months, which does not necessarily mean that the cricketing tournaments and events spanned at least six months.

The reply also criticized Mr Khan’s decision to provide Mushtaq Ahmed’s contract as an example. It pointed out that the appended contract stated that “the cricketer will not be required to work for the employer for more than one month during each calendar year during the term on overseas tours or otherwise”.

The reply also claimed that Mr Khan had changed his stance on the date of purchase of his London flat, saying that while he had publicly stated that he bought the apartment in 1983, his statement to the SC now claims that he purchased the flat in 1984.

Published in Dawn, July 25th, 2017