Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday said there was no doubt Prime Minister Imran Khan was "a criminal", adding that he was now shifting blame on the agents managing two US companies registered on the latter's orders in the PTI foreign funding case.
"Why is the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) not taking action when the evidence is clear-cut?" he questioned, claiming that the nation "is protesting against the ECP's negligence in fulfilling its Constitutional duties".
He said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) will protest in front of the ECP office in the capital on Jan 19, urging people to join the opposition's march and to save the country from "injustice".
Nawaz's statement comes days after the PTI submitted a written reply to a questionnaire given by the ECP scrutiny committee in which it claimed that if any funds were collected illegally through the two US companies registered on Imran Khan’s written instructions, the responsibility lies with their agents managing the two LLCs.
The party said “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 foreign funding case against PTI was filed in Nov 2014 by Akbar S Babar, a founding member of the party. He had alleged serious financial irregularities in PTI’s accounts.
The allegations made by Babar included illegal sources of funding, concealment of bank accounts in the country and abroad, money laundering, and using private bank accounts of PTI employees as a front to receive illegal donations from the Middle East.
In a video message posted on his Twitter account on Saturday, Nawaz said that the "clear and straightforward" case had been pending with the ECP for the past six years. A decision had not been taken because it concerned Imran Khan and the PTI instead of Nawaz Sharif and the PML-N, he said.
Recounting the events leading up to his ouster in 2017, the PML-N supremo highlighted the alleged differences in the way he was treated and how the foreign funding case was being treated.
"You must remember the haste in which matters proceeded to oust me, an elected premier. The judge of the Supreme Court constituted a joint investigation team (JIT) via Whatsapp which included representatives from the military intelligence and the Inter-Services Intelligence.
"And then the way in which the JIT was told to submit a report in 60 days. Then the haste with which the verdict was issued in the Panama case, and [on the basis of an Iqama] a prime minister was dismissed. You remember this, right?"
He added that the accountability court was also directed to issue a decision in six months while the tenure of judge Mohammad Bashir, who convicted the Sharif family in Avenfield properties references, was also extended, Nawaz said.
"But this is one side of the picture. Let's look at the other side."
Drawing a comparison with the PTI's foreign funding case, Nawaz said that a case was filed in 2014 by a founding member of the party, adding that there had been 70 hearings so far.
"Imran Khan, the man wearing the medal and shouting the slogan of sadiq and ameen, who did not tire when saying that accountability should begin with him [...] has now become the biggest obstacle for justice."
Nawaz alleged that the prime minister was using delaying tactics and ignoring the directions of the ECP.
"In March 2018, the ECP had formed a scrutiny committee and directed that a report be submitted in one month. Approximately two-and-a-half years later, there is still no report," Nawaz said.
"Finally in his seventh year, Imran Khan has accepted that things have gone awry when it comes to foreign funding. But he has put the responsibility of this on his agents and said that they must have done this," the PML-N supremo said, alluding to the PTI's response to the ECP.
"There are two companies registered in the US under Imran Khan's directives and were running under his eye," he claimed.
Nawaz added that the State Bank of Pakistan had given the ECP information about 23 accounts, 15 of which the premier hid and did not include in the report given to the commission.
"He did not disclose the total amount, the source, and did not give a money trail or receipts," Nawaz said, adding that the nation wanted to know how the money was accumulated and where it went.
"If there is no corruption, then why was it hidden? Do these suspect accounts not come under the crime of money laundering? Where is the money trail? And why is the information not being given to the ECP and to the people?" he asked.
PTI insists funds being managed transparently
On Thursday, the PTI said it was the only party that was managing its funds with complete transparency.
“PTI is the first party to have made a departure from the established practice of PML-N, PPP and JUI-F of receiving heavy donations from vested interest groups, land grabbers and other rogue elements and returning the favour to them at the cost people of Pakistan after the polls,” Information Minister Shibli Faraz told Dawn.
He said the PTI set a new tradition of fundraising by its party members both within the country and Pakistani expatriates, owing no obligation to anybody for “investing in election campaigns”.
“All this was transparent and all the details of the funds received by the party have been submitted to the ECP,” he added.
Faraz said the PML-N and the PPP had failed to submit details of their suspicious donations and it was time for them to submit all the documents asked for by the ECP without any delay. “These parties must stop a hue and cry over the PTI’s funding and come clean on donations received by them.”