Apex court, ECP urged to move against PTI over foreign funding

Published January 6, 2022
A combination photo of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (L), Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — PPP Twitter/PMO/AFP
A combination photo of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (L), Prime Minister Imran Khan (C) and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif. — PPP Twitter/PMO/AFP

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Terming the foreign funding report a “damning indictment” of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the country’s two main opposition parties — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — have urged the Supreme Court (SC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

However, both the parties seem to be reluctant to take the matter to court as the PML-N believes the SC should take a suo motu action against the prime minister and the PPP believes it is primarily the responsibility of the ECP to ban the ruling party.

“Finally, Mr Clean has been exposed as a corrupt and dishonest political conman. And the other dishonourable man who declared him Sadiq & Ameen to engineer my ouster has already been heard admitting his crime. Divine justice is done, only the legal one remains to be seen & done,” former prime minister Nawaz Sharif said in a tweet in his reaction to the foreign funding report.

PML-N wants SC to take suo motu action; PPP says it’s ECP’s responsibility to take ruling party to task

Addressing a news conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, PML-N leaders said they were expecting the apex court and the ECP to take action against the PTI on the basis of the foreign funding report which, according to them, had confirmed that the PTI had received funds from foreign nationals and companies, concealed dozens of its bank accounts and embezzled Rs310 million over a four-year period between 2009 and 2013.

“We expect from the ECP and the SC, which had previously used its suo motu powers, that they will take notice of it [the report],” said PML-N’s vice president Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the presser.

“We hope that the SC will take a suo motu notice. If the SC can act as a trial court, send a government packing and disqualify a prime minister for lifetime for not receiving a meagre amount as salary on the basis of an Iqama [work permit], then can’t the same SC put questions to a prime minister who has been embezzling millions of rupees and who is not ready to provide record [of the party funds],” said Mr Abbasi with apparent reference to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in July 2017 by the SC.

“It is the responsibility of the SC and the ECP to hold these people accountable. There is a need to launch a major investigation,” said Mr Abbasi in reply to a question whether the PML-N would move the SC against the PTI after the release of the report of the ECP’s scrutiny committee about the PTI’s foreign funding.

According to the report, said Mr Abbasi, $2.1m was transferred into the PTI accounts from a cricket club in Dubai. Similarly, he alleged that Mr Khan owned two companies registered in the US, the details of which the ECP had obtained from the website of the US Department of Justice.

Talking to Dawn, PPP’s finance secretary Senator Saleem Mandviwala said that all eyes were now on the ECP, which had no option but to ban the PTI before the next elections. He said so far only a report of the scrutiny committee had come to the surface and that they were waiting for the ECP to take action, claiming that the report had come out after seven years. “It showed that there was some seriousness on the part of the commission.”

Speaking at a news conference earlier, Mr Mandviwala blasted the PTI for accusing the PPP and the PML-N of receiving foreign funds, instead of admitting its own mismanagement.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in his tweet said: “ECP report proving PTI foreign funding is a damning indictment not only of the party’s corruption but exposes their hypocrisy. Simultaneously, tax records reveal @ImranKhanPTI income has increased more than 50 times since gaining power. Pakistan has become poorer but Imran is richer.”

“Imran Khan’s ugly face tainted with corruption has been exposed,” added Mr Bhutto-Zardari. “It is now clear that Imran Khan was imposed on the country only under the guise of a so-called anti-corruption campaign. He made false promises and looted the country instead.”

Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N president and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, said in his tweet it had become clear now as to why the PTI was running away from the foreign funding case for the last seven years. “Truth has a strange way of exposing people. The scrutiny committee’s report is a damning indictment of IK. The facade of Sadiq aur Ameen has been shredded into pieces,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2022

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