ISLAMABAD: As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) resumed hearing of the foreign funding case lingering against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) since 2014, the party’s lawyer Anwar Mansoor Khan on Wednesday said that no fund had been received from ‘prohibited sources’ and argued that the law did not prohibit taking funds from any foreign source.

Appearing before a three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, the PTI counsel pleaded that as long as a multinational company did not fund a political party, funding from internationally registered companies was not barred.

He said the ECP’s scrutiny committee misinterpreted Section 6 of the Political Parties Order-2002 (PPO). The PPO did not prohibit taking funds from any foreign source, he argued.

Reading out PPO’s Section 6(3), the senior lawyer said any contribution made directly or indirectly by any foreign government, multinational, or domestically incorporated public or private company, firm, trade or professional association shall be prohibited.

Party lawyer seeks time to respond to scrutiny committee’s findings in 2014 foreign funding case

The subsection also mentions “and the parties may accept contributions and donations only from individuals”.

At a stage when ECP member from Sindh Nisar Durrani asked if he was admitting to the PTI taking foreign funding, the counsel responded that no funding was received from any ‘prohibited source’. He admitted that money came from outside but rejected the allegation of prohibited funding as false.

“If the donors were foreigners, the petitioner Akbar S. Babar should prove his allegation with evidence,” the lawyer suggested, explaining that the PTI did not take any “funding from any Indian citizen, but if any ‘Hindu’ citizen got dual citizenship, did he become a foreigner?” He said people with dual citizenship were also called Pakistani citizens.

Money being received from the United States was declared as foreign funding though all the money coming from abroad had already been disclosed, he argued.

“The scrutiny committee misinterpreted Section 6 of PPO law. The PPO does not prohibit taking funds from any foreign source,” he said.

After arguing for some time, the PTI counsel sought more time to prepare for the response regarding the details of prohibited funding listed in the ECP scrutiny committee’s report.

Subsequently, the bench adjourned further hearing till April 19.

The petitioner, PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, was represented by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry in the case.

Talking to reporters outside the ECP, Mr Babar said the recent PTI attempt to dissociate him from the case failed when its writ petition before the Islamabad High Court was dismissed.

On March 15, the PTI disowned 11 of the accounts it had earlier owned as per the documents submitted before the ECP scrutiny committee, the disgruntled leader told the media.

He explained that besides others, the 11 accounts were operated by Asad Qaiser, Shah Farman, Imran Ismail and others. The PTI in its written reply has stated “these individuals were not authorised by competent authority for opening bank acco­unt(s), therefore this bank account was operated without the knowledge of the PTI Finance Department”.

The PTI also claimed that the 11 accounts “came to the knowledge and information of PTI upon the disclosure of the same by the State Bank of Pakistan” in July 2018.

He said the documentary evidence refuted PTI’s claim as at least two of the 11 accounts it disowned were directly operated by the PTI Central Finance Board through the party’s central finance secretary Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan.

Mr Babar demanded that the new government immediately order an inquiry by the FIA into foreign donations in the personal bank accounts of four PTI employees on the directives of the party’s finance board with a copy sent to Imran Khan and Arif Alvi. The board’s letter dated July 2011, copy of which is available, is part of the evidence before the ECP.

He said the finance board members that authorised the alleged illegal activity include Saifullah Niazi, Amir Kiani, retired colonel Yunus Ali Raza, Dr Humayun Mohmad, Tariq Sheikh and Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

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