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ISLAMABAD: In what can be called a counterblast to a PML-N petition, two leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) sought a declaration from the Supreme Court to proclaim the country’s main political parties, namely the PML-N and PPP, foreign-aided parties for receiving funds from prohibited sources that should be forfeited.

The petitions were filed separately by PTI members of the National Assembly from Islamabad, Asad Umar and Shireen Mazari, through their common lawyer Faisal Fareed Hussain.

The petitions plead that the apex court should order a scrutiny of the two political parties’ accounts for 2013-15 after which the respective party leaders, namely Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari, be held guilty of making misstatements under Article 13 of the Political Parties Order (PPO) as well as Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution that deal with disqualification of the parliamentarians.

One of the pleas sought by the petitioner was declaration by the apex court that the election symbols awarded to the parties by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were in violation of Article 6 and 13 of PPO and, therefore, they be banned for acting against the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan for being foreign-aided parties.

Petitions say the Supreme Court should order a scrutiny of the two parties’ accounts for 2013-15

In his petition Asad Umar argued that the accounts of PML-N for 2013-15 showed unverifiable assets amounting to Rs27 million in total.

Moreover, the financial statements of party’s Central Secretariat for 2013, 2014 and 2015 in “other revenues” disclosed Rs145m, Rs8.6m and Rs11.7m, respectively, but the head did not disclose from where these amounts were generated.

The term “other revenue” is not only vague but it can safely be assumed that the PML-N was either carrying out a business from which revenue was being generated or being sponsored by foreign aid or companies or other prohibited sources from where the funds were being received.

There is no information whether these amounts were generated through business activity, contribution, donation or unlawful sources in terms of Article 2(c) or Article 6 of PPO. If the amount was generated by business activity then the same is prohibited under Article 6(3) of PPO. Contributions of such high amounts are also questionable as there is no disclosure of the source or the persons who made these donations. There is no list of persons who contributed the money, there is no evidence to show that the money was generated in Pakistan or abroad by Pakistani nationals, by individuals hence raising the question that due to lack of disclosure of the source, such a huge amount of money could have been raised from ‘foreign aid’ or ‘prohibited sources’.

Moreover, no contribution has been given by party members as the financial statement suggests nothing when it was mandatory under PPO that every member pay the membership fee as defined in the constitution of the party.

Similarly, Shireen Mazari argued that statement of accounts of the PPP from 2009 to 2012 were not available for either due to non-filing or for reasons best known to its leader Asif Zardari.

The accounts of 2013 started with an opening balance from the previous years but from where that opening balance carry forward was undisclosed. Thus no source of opening funds in the accounts of the year 2013 has been disclosed.

In the year 2013 the PPP had an opening fund of Rs414m but due to non-availability of the source noting was on record to suggest whether this huge amount was raised from funds received as foreign aid or from prohibited sources.

Likewise in the accounts of PPP(Parliamentarians) registered with the ECP separately for the year 2014-15 expenses were classified as “Miscellaneous Disbursement” amounting to Rs51m and Rs47m, respectively, but were not supported by any evidence of expenditures.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2017