ISLAMABAD: In an apparent departure from its stance of denying any illegal funding from the United States, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has now come up with an explanation that if any funds were collected illegally through two US companies registered after Imran Khan’s written instructions, the responsibility lies with their agents managing the two limited liability companies.
The party adopted the latest stance in a written reply to a questionnaire given to it by the scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), informed sources told Dawn on Wednesday.
The ECP committee met to continue scrutiny of PTI accounts under fresh directives to expedite the process, which has been going on since March 2018.
The foreign funding case against PTI was filed in Nov 2014 by Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the party.
Sources revealed that during Wednesday’s meeting, the petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, protested the committee’s refusal to share the PTI’s financial documents with his client. The documents include 23 PTI bank statements received on instructions from the State Bank that were mostly concealed from the ECP.
Mr Shah was assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry.
Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah said that by refusing to share the documents, the committee was in violation of an ECP order dated May 30, 2018, which rejected the PTI’s request to keep these documents and the scrutiny process secret.
The lawyer asserted that “we are participating in the committee process under protest as denying access to PTI bank statements and other documents is a violation of law and due process”.
The body’s chairman acknowledged that the PTI’s bank statements and other documents were not being shared with the petitioner on the concerns of PTI. To which the petitioner Akbar S Babar complained as to how there can be an independent and transparent scrutiny and investigations when those being investigated are managing the process.
The scrutiny committee will now meet on Thursday (today).
Akbar Babar, the petitioner, told reporters after the meeting the reason for the delay despite over 80 meetings was simple: “When those who are under investigation influence the investigation process, how can there be progress?”
He said the committee refused to share PTI’s bank statements with him “as the respondent (PTI) opposes it”. Even an auditor was replaced upon “documented pressure from PTI”, he added.
Babar said the committee could meet forever, but unless it “investigates the evidence”, the scrutiny process would remain inconclusive and without credibility.
The PTI said in its reply submitted to the Election Commission that “any contribution that has been collected by the agent which may be questionable would be beyond the scope of the work/responsibility/instructions given by the principal (respondent)”.
“The principal has given clear instructions and if the agent goes beyond those instructions without disclosing it to the principal, without seeking ratification of those acts and without even sending that money to the principal, then it is submitted that the principal will not be liable under section 228 and not admit/certify such contents. “The fact that the principal neither had knowledge nor has received the proceeds exhibits the bona fide of the principal,” the document carrying PTI’s reply went on to argue.
It was submitted through Shah Khawar.
Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2021