PDM to march to ECP's office in Islamabad on Jan 19 for 'decision' on PTI foreign funding case

Published January 14, 2021
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks to the media in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb speaks to the media in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Thursday that the party, under the umbrella of the 10-party opposition alliance Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), would take out rallies from different areas of Rawalpindi and Islamabad on Jan 19 that would merge into one big rally before heading towards the office of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the capital.

Addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with other party leaders, she said the rally was being organised to "get a decision from the ECP that it is not giving since 2014". She was referring to a foreign funding case against the PTI, which was filed in Nov 2014 by Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the ruling party.

"The protest that the PDM is going to do on Jan 19 [is being done] to take the decision that has already been made today when the PTI has accepted that illegal funding has come through 23 foreign-funded accounts, [that] illegal funding could have been done through agents. [The PTI] accepted that money was gotten illegally through 23 foreign funded accounts that were not declared accounts and that money was [deposited] in PTI accounts [through cheques].

"Signs of President [Dr Arif Alvi], Sindh Governor [Imran Ismail] and Imran Khan sahib himself [along with] other PTI leaders are present on those cheques," she claimed.

PTI's explanation

In an apparent departure from its stance of denying any illegal funding from the United States, the PTI had on Wednesday, 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 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.

The party adopted the latest stance in a written reply to a questionnaire given to it by the scrutiny committee of the ECP, sources had told Dawn.

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.

In the presser today, Aurangzeb said that the PTI has "accepted the decision that ECP is not giving since 2014" and the PDM workers would go to the commission's office on Jan 19 to take that decision from it.

"The case was registered in 2014. What reason does the ECP have [to delay a verdict] when the PTI has accepted that agents did illegal funding? They should be ready to write the judgement," she further said.

The PML-N spokesperson said that all routes of the rally had been decided and all preparations had been completed.

"[One] rally will start in Islamabad and head towards the ECP office. The Pindi rally will start from Nawaz Sharif Park and will go to the commission through Club Road," she said, adding that rallies taken out from other areas of the district would merge at Kashmir Chowk and head to the ECP office from there.

"PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz will preside over the rally and all PDM leaders will be there."

Defamation notice

Aurangzeb also spoke about a legal notice sent to her by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Interior and Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar for allegedly making defamatory statements about him in connection with the recent Broadsheet scandal.

In a tweet, Akbar said Aurangzeb "has been asked to apologise or she will be taken to court".

Responding to Akbar, Aurangzeb said today that "such people do not understand defamation when they wave papers [during press conferences] and make false allegations against people" whom they never take to the courts.

"The person who has set the price for his honour at Rs500 million will go abroad and definitely ask for his cut," she said, while referring to a recent interview of Kaveh Moussavi, the owner of UK-based assets recovery firm Broadsheet LLC, in which he had alleged that an individual who he had met with Akbar in 2018 regarding a $1 billion bank account was more interested in getting his cut than in investigating suspects.

The Broadsheet owner added, however, that Akbar may not have been aware of this individual’s question about a commission.

Denying this in a statement to Dawn, Akbar clarified that he met Moussavi in 2019 twice and not in 2018. He said the context of his meetings was to negotiate the award price and to reduce the payable amount. According to Akbar, in the interview, Moussavi may be referring to someone he met separately.

However, Aurangzeb said that she had "raised valid questions and I stand by them today".

She questioned why the government was defending Broadsheet LLC and paying it when it had done "zero recoveries" of assets.

"That person (Akbar) asked where is my cut and [Moussavi] said the share goes to the people of Pakistan and he said no, we are talking about our share. You are pained because you did not get your cut," she alleged.

"You wave papers about Ashiyana(-i-Iqbal Housing Scheme scam), (Punjab) Saaf Pani (Company) ... You said Shehbaz Sharif [stole] money from Lahore Metro Train (project). You could not prove corruption of Rs1.

"I have made an allegation where you said 'give me commission, give me cut'. I am repeating [Moussavi's] talk," she said while calling on Akbar to answer allegations of receiving kickbacks.

Read: Moussavi allegations open can of worms

"Tell us how you held the meetings. You are giving the contract again to the company you are already paying a fine to. The people ask [you] to make the draft [of the contract] public.

"You tell lies, I will expose you. You disrespect other people, I will disrespect you. You defame others, I will defame you."

Aurangzeb demanded that the government make public all details about the meetings that officials from the government and National Accountability Bureau (NAB) held with Broadsheet LLC, the contract that the government wanted to ink with it and the reason for doing so.

"The entire team of NAB that went to the meeting which was headed by Shahzad Akbar, the details of the meetings should be made public, what legal authority they had [and] all costs of meeting" should be made public because this has "defamed the people", she added.

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