PTI disowns its official’s statement in funding case

Published February 16, 2021
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan (middle), Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (left) and Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood.  — File
This file photo shows Prime Minister Imran Khan (middle), Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (left) and Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood. — File

ISLAMABAD: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has disowned the statement of its central finance secretary claiming the receipt of donations from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the accounts of four of its paid employees.

During the brief proceedings of the ECP’s scrutiny committee, the PTI submitted a written response to petitioner Akbar S. Babar’s application seeking investigation into ‘front accounts of the PTI employees’ who had been authorised to collect funds from Pakistan and abroad.

The application demanded that all the personal front accounts of four PTI employees be requisitioned from the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to ascertain full scale and scope of the illegal fund raising.

The response was filed by counsel for the ruling party Shah Khawar.

Petitioner claims he has been offered post of Senate chairman, but he declined it in national interest

On Monday, the scrutiny committee met for a short time before the meeting was adjourned for Tuesday (today) as the DG Law chairing the committee had to attend ECP business before the Supreme Court.

The PTI in its response stated the “respondent does not own such statement made by any of the office-bearers of PTI. In the same manner, the referred so called report by Auditors ‘Ahsan and Ahsan’ has already been declared a non-party by this worthy scrutiny committee.”

Interestingly, the PTI disowned its central finance secretary’s admission to the front accounts and illegal funding from the UAE, but it did not disown the decision made by the PTI finance board to allow funds collection by PTI employees in a meeting dated July 1, 2011.

The minutes of the meeting are available with this correspondent.

It is important to mention here that Ahsan & Ahsan audit of PTI donations was authorised on the written sanction of the PTI Chairman Imran Khan on March 9, 2013. The audit report certified all the allegations of the petitioner regarding illegal funding of the PTI. In his statement, the central finance secretary had acknowledged the existence of the special audit report including transfer of funds from the UAE to the personal accounts of PTI ‘employees’.

The latest turnaround in PTI stance comes in the wake of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s statement on January 20 in Wana where he offered to end secrecy of the foreign funding case, which was also disowned by PTI lawyer later.

The petitioner has repeatedly asked the scrutiny committee to investigate the PTI employees’ bank accounts which had been illegally used as a front to collect donations. Despite sharing ample evidence till date, the ECP scrutiny committee had made no effort to investigate these accounts under PTI pressure, according to the petitioner.

He said the committee continued to keep PTI records and bank statements secret against ECP orders. According to him, the record includes 23 PTI bank accounts revealed on the SBP instructions and mostly kept secret from the ECP under ‘documented’ PTI pressure.

The foreign funding case against the ruling PTI has been pending before the ECP since November 2014.

Talking to reporters outside the ECP office, petitioner Babar said it was incumbent on the scrutiny committee to probe the front accounts of PTI employees illegally used to collect donations. He said the committee was a fact-finding body but instead of probing and digging out facts, the committee has chosen to keep evidence secret, which was not only illegal but also raised fundamental questions on the transparency of the whole scrutiny process.

On August 27, last year, Mr Babar said, the ECP rejected the initial scrutiny report filed after a gap of 28 to 29 months. A report prepared in secrecy without even authenticating the evidence or probing leads would remain merely an attempt to cover facts, he alleged. This would not be allowed even if it meant seeking SC intervention. He said the ECP was responsible for the committee’s conduct. The commission could not isolate itself from the lack of transparency and blatant violations of due process by the scrutiny committee.

The petitioner said he had faced death threats and fake cases. Lately he was offered any post of choice including the position of Senate chairman that he declined as the foreign funding case was not for his personal but national gains.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021


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