Simultaneous scrutiny of parties’ funding sought

Published December 13, 2021
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib address a news conference in Lahore on Sunday. — PID
Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib address a news conference in Lahore on Sunday. — PID

LAHORE: The PTI government has called upon the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to simultaneously scrutinise the funding sources of three major political parties of the country — Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Peoples Party — and make them public.

In the second phase, the ECP should do the same for the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), Jamaat-i-Islami and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI-F).

The demands were made by federal Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Minister of State for Information Farrukh Habib at a news conference at the Governor House on Sunday.

“Making ECP-registered political parties’ accounts scrutinised honestly and without any discrimination is mandatory for the commission as advised by the Supreme Court in the Hanif Abbasi case of 2016,” said the state minister.

The information minister said the incumbent government wanted that the funding sources of all political parties, registered with the ECP, should be open for all. Mr Chaudhry also gave some examples of huge amounts transferred to the PML-N and PPP accounts without disclosure about any sources.

Minister says ECP can complete in two months the process to ensure use of EVMs in next polls

He alleged that the PML-N leadership used its party account to whiten their ill-gotten money. “The PTI will continue pursuing this case since it is a complainant against the PML-N and PPP,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said the PPP’s funds record for the years 2009-12 was not available and depositing of Rs420 million in a newly opened account in 2013 also lacked information about the funding sources.

He said that the PPP had got its company registered in the United States for which former ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani had raised funds. There was no record of millions of dollars collected in the fundraising campaign, he added.

Farrukh Habib said the PTI had introduced a system of acknowledging its donors and the party had submitted 22 volumes of record of its 40,000 donors to the ECP. He said the commission had constituted a committee in 2017 to scrutinise the accounts of the PML-N and PPP but failed to conclude the exercise so far.

Mr Habib said the PML-N had nothing to say about its funding sources, adding that former premier Benazir Bhutto had written in her book that Nawaz Sharif had taken money to topple the PPP government. He also said the PML-N had got its party registered in the United Kingdom and the PPP in the United States.

Fawad Chaudhry said democracy would strengthen when political parties would have their own structures and funding system. He regretted that many extremist parties had got registered with the ECP and they had never given any detail of their funding sources.

“This is very serious issue and needs to be handled with care,” he said, adding: “There has been an objection that the JUI-F continues getting foreign funding, while there is no information about the funding sources of TLP,” Mr Chaudhry observed.

The minister, meanwhile, objected to the ‘threats’ hurled by Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah and asserted that he should refrain from criticising the federation. “Mr Shah is not ashamed of carrying Faryal Talpur’s purse but always remains ready to hurl threats of breaking Pakistan,” he said.

Punjab LG law, EVMs

Mr Chaudhry praised Punjab for finalising the Punjab Local Government Act (PLGA) 2021 that would devolve powers and resources to grassroots level and create an empowered government. Under the new law, he said, mayors would be elected through direct election in every district of the province and they would nominate their cabinets.

He said every mayor in a district would literally be a chief minister and all the funds sent to the provinces would ultimately reach the respective districts. “Prime Minister Imran Khan has fulfilled his promise of empowering local governments at grassroots level despite opposition from within the party,” he said.

Referring to a statement that the upcoming local government elections could not held by using electronic voting machines, the information minister asserted that these could be held by using EVMs by all means. “The ECP should issue a tender and the companies from all over the world would bid and it [commission] could select, purchase and use them in elections,” he said, adding that this process could easily be completed in just two months.

Stating that the ECP should take this matter a bit seriously, Mr Chaudhry acknowledged that the commission had constituted a committee and was heading towards the use of EVMs. In the upcoming LG elections, he said, all political parties would get a chance to show their muscles. He said PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had destroyed the party and it would not even be able to get candidates in the next elections.

Balochistan rally

The information minister said the federal government would give a comprehensive package to southern Balochistan this week and also remove hurdles in the way of resolving the issues being confronted by the people of Gwadar and the province.

He said the prime minister had taken notice of the rally in Gwadar demanding resolution of their local issues, adding that the people of Balochistan faced problems on the Iranian border following the government’s decision to monitor all borders strictly after the US forces left Afghanistan. “The government is working to resolve Balochistan people’s issues as they feel a sense of deprivation,” he added.

Fawad Chaudhry said the prime minister would inaugurate the Health Card programme in Punjab on Monday (today), adding that it would help all families save money currently being used for their health concerns.

The minister said five accused in the Army Public School attack case had already been executed, while one case was being heard by the Supreme Court on a review petition.

Published in Dawn, December 13th, 2021

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