ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) Scrutiny Committee auditing the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) foreign funding will meet here on March 10 (tomorrow) and is likely to review a plea to requisition the accounts of four PTI employees who were authorised by the party’s six-member finance board to receive donations in their personal accounts in Pakistan and abroad.
A documented list of the PTI’s paid employees, who were authorised to receive donations for the party from within and outside Pakistan, emerged last month. These included a telephone operator.
The decision to allow the PTI employees to collect funds was taken at a meeting held on July 1, 2011. It was attended by Saifullah Niazi, the party’s incumbent chief organiser; Aamer Mahmud Kiani, present secretary general and former health minister who was removed from the federal cabinet; Dr Humayun Mohmand, who was recently appointed chairman of the board of directors of Pims (Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences); Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, the party’s former finance secretary and now Pakistan’s Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan; Colonel Yunus Ali Raza, and Tariq R. Sheikh.
When contacted, PTI’s central finance secretary and financial adviser Siraj Ahmad confirmed that a ‘one-time’ authorisation had been given to the four employees by the party’s finance board. He, however, claimed that the amount received from the United Arab Emirates through Western Union in their private accounts ultimately went to the party account.
“This was our internal letter for internal control over donation receipt from the UAE through Western Union. This was only one-time activity. The UAE laws do not allow transfer of funds directly to the party,” he said.
A PTI’s founding member and the petitioner in the PTI foreign funding case, Akbar S. Babar, alleges that donations were illegally received in the front accounts of the PTI employees through Hundi, particularly from the Middle East, and siphoned off by the senior party leadership through cheques with no trace or record. He has repeatedly asked the ECP scrutiny committee to investigate the private bank accounts of PTI employees which were illegally used to collect donations.
Although the PTI central finance secretary has yet to disown his statement, the PTI lawyer in a written response before the Scrutiny Committee has disowned the party’s finance secretary’s admission of receiving funds in PTI employees’ personal bank accounts.
Mr Babar in an application filed on Feb 9 had demanded that the Scrutiny Committee should requisition the personal bank accounts of the four PTI employees through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) designated to receive donations from Pakistan and abroad to ascertain the full scale and scope of the illegal funding.
In its last meeting held on Feb 16, the Scrutiny Committee adjourned without announcing a decision on whether or not it would requisition personal bank accounts of four PTI employees through the SBP.
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2021