PTI files foreign funding case against JUI-F

Published January 27, 2021
This file photo shows JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlul Rehman. — AFP/File
This file photo shows JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlul Rehman. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: In an interesting development, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has filed with the Election Comamission of Pakistan (ECP) an application demanding an inquiry into allegations that Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman and other party leaders frequently visited Libya and Iraq and received funding from there.

In the application addressed to the chief election commissioner, PTI MNA Farrukh Habib referred to disclosures made by former JUI-F spokesman Hafiz Hussain Ahmed about the party’s alleged foreign funding. A transcript of an interview in which Hafiz Hussain allegedly spilled the beans has been attached with the petition.

Mr Habib said in his app­lication that Hafiz Hussain had confessed that the JUI-F chief had received funds from Libya and Iraq. He requested the ECP to summon Maulana Khan Muhammad Sherani asked him to inform the commission from where Maulana Fazl had got the funding.

Meanwhile, the foreign funding case against the PTI took an interesting turn on Tuesday when Akbar S. Babar, petitioner and one of the founding members of the ruling party, submitted to the ECP’s scrutiny committee an application seeking transparency in the proceedings of the case by airing it live in the light of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s offer for live coverage of the case.

In his application, the petitioner challenged the decision of the committee to continue to keep the financial record of the PTI, including 23 bank statements, secret from him in the light of the prime minister’s offer.

The petitioner referred to the order of the scrutiny committee dated December 2, 2019, in which it had refused to share PTI records by stating “learned counsel for the complainant [Mr Babar] was told that copies of the documents submitted by the respondent [PTI] cannot be provided at this stage as the respondent seriously opposes it”.

The application reiterated that provision of copies of all financial documents of the PTI was the legal right of the complainant under Article 5(4) of the Political Parties Order, 2002, and Section 203(5) of the Elections Act, 2017, the order of the ECP dated May 30, 2018, and that of the Islamabad High Court dated December 4, 2019.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, narrated facts for the record that led to a walkout of members of the ECP’s scrutiny committee during the last hearing.

Mr Shah reiterated that as long as the petitioner’s genuine and legal concerns of transparency were not addressed, which included sharing of all financial documents of the PTI with the committee, they would continue to participate in the scrutiny committee’s proceedings under protest.

A copy of the application demanding sharing of all documents in the light of PM Khan’s latest offer of ending secrecy was also given to PTI representatives attending the proceedings.

Sources said that an interesting situation developed when the PTI representatives showed reluctance to even receive a copy of the application. It was agreed that the PTI would respond to the application in the next meeting for the scrutiny committee to decide the matter.

The committee’s proceedings were adjourned without further work as the PTI filed an adjournment application due to the absence of PTI’s senior lawyer Shah Khawar in view of his other engagements.

Talking to reporters, Mr Babar said it was the right of the nation to know the truth. “We have filed the application to test PM Khan’s offer of ending secrecy.”

He said that in January 2017 Mr Khan had accused the same ECP of “being in favour of the petitioner [Mr Babar] for extraneous reasons including political — January 9, 2017”. “So what has changed for PM Khan’s sudden change of heart about the ECP? Similarly, Imran Khan’s January 2020 petition filed in the Supreme Court is pending that challenges the jurisdiction of the ECP in this case.”

Mr Babar said that Mr Khan had conceded the truth the day he started filing writ petitions in the high court and in the ECP in an attempt to scuttle the scrutiny process under one pretext or the other to avoid accountability.

Mr Babar said the real challenge the prime minister was facing was from a system that had refused to provide justice to the weak against the powerful. He said the PTI had been formed to change this system and instead of changing this rotten system, Mr Khan was presiding over it.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2021

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