PM Shehbaz urges ECP to announce ‘long-delayed’ judgement in PTI prohibited funding case

Published July 19, 2022
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. —DawnNewsTV/File
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. —DawnNewsTV/File

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Tuesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce the “long-delayed” judgement in the prohibited funding case, previously referred to as the foreign funding case, against the PTI.

“For long has Imran Niazi been given a free pass despite his repeated and shameless attacks on state institutions. Impunity given to him has hurt the country,” he tweeted.

The case, which was filed by Akbar S Babar, has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Babar, who was a founding member of the PTI but is no longer associated with it, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.

The ECP had reserved its verdict last month.

The premier’s remarks come days after the PTI clinched a sweeping victory on 20 seats in the Punjab by-elections. Subsequently, in an address to supporters yesterday, PTI chairman Imran Khan criticised the ECP for being biased and demanded Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja’s resignation over his alleged favouring of the PML-N in electoral battles.

Imran also claimed that his party won the by-polls despite the use of state machinery as he insisted that early elections were still the only solution to the country’s economic problems.

Following Imran’s address, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz demanded that the ECP issue its verdict in the foreign funding case soon. “There is irrefutable evidence against you (Imran) which has to be revealed inevitably.”

She insisted that Imran’s criticism of the ECP was not due to rigging, which she said did not even take place. “It is the fear of the foreign funding case,” she said.

The foreign funding case

Last month, the ECP had reserved its verdict in the prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — against the PTI, which has not been issued yet.

The petitioner, Babar, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad. The PTI had, however, denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

On January 4, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding in one month, finally submitted its report after 95 hearings and nearly four years.

The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, proved that the PTI leadership had committed gross violations of funding laws by allowing the collection of millions of dollars and billions of rupees without any source and details from foreigners, including Indian nationals and foreign companies.

The report, a copy of which is available with Dawn, had also mentioned a refusal by the party to divulge details of large transactions and the panel’s helplessness to get details of PTI’s foreign accounts and the funds collected abroad.

According to the report, the party under-reported an amount of Rs312 million over a four-year period, between FY2009-10 and FY2012-13. Year-wise details show that an amount of over Rs145m was under-reported in FY2012-13 alone.

It also called into question the certificate signed by the PTI chairman, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

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