ISLAMABAD: As the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is set to announce much-awaited verdict in the 2014 prohibited funding case against Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Tuesday, the PTI that managed to get resolutions against Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) passed from two provincial assemblies announced protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Aug 4, seeking the CEC’s resignation.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed and Shah Mohammad Jatoi, will announce the verdict that the ECP reserved on June 20 after hearing arguments from both sides.

The verdict is being announced amid a stepped up campaign against the CEC after the commission reserved the judgement and comes days after an investigative report published in the Financial Times revealed how 2.12 million dollars collected in the UK through a charity cricket match landed in PTI’s accounts, exposing the role played by business tycoon Arif Naqvi in the process.

The case, which was filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar, has been pending since Nov 14, 2014. Mr Babar had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad. Mr Khan and his party leaders have denied any wrongdoing, and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.

Imran calls for protest outside ECP offices to seek CEC’s resignation

On January 4, the ECP’s scrutiny committee, formed in March 2018 to examine the PTI’s foreign funding within a month, finally submitted its report after nearly four years during which it conducted as many as 95 hearings. The report, based on eight volumes of record requisitioned through the State Bank of Pakistan, confirmed 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 confirmed that the PTI received funding from foreign nationals and companies, under-reported funds and concealed dozens of its bank accounts. It 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. It also calls into question the certificate, signed by PTI chairman Imran Khan, submitted along with the details of PTI’s audited accounts.

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.

The report also referred to the controversy over allowing four PTI employees to receive donations in their personal accounts, but said it was out of the scope of its work to probe their accounts.

However, the PTI had been insisting on clubbing foreign funding cases against all the parties and deciding them together, the ruling coalition had been demanding an early announcement of the verdict for many days.

Meanwhile, red zone security has been put on high alert ahead of the ECP s verdict in the PTI foreign funding case. It has been decided to deploy 1,000 police personnel. The anti-riot force will also remain in the red zone. Unrelated persons will not be able to enter the Red zone.

PTI to protest outside ECP on 4th

The PTI chairman on Monday called for protest outside the ECP, demanding CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja’s resignation. He said: “The assemblies of KP and Punjab have passed resolutions against the CEC showing that they have lost confidence in him. The commission should under no circumstances conduct the next general elections.”

Speaking at the party’s national council, Mr Khan said the PTI government tried its best to introduce Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) to ensure free and transparent elections but the CEC sabotaged all their efforts to secure the system of rigging for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Earlier on July 30, Mr Khan had declared to move a reference against the CEC in the judicial commission, accusing him of meeting leaders of the ruling PML-N. The decision was criticised by ECP officials as well as the PPP that termed it an ‘attempt to blackmail’ the commission.

PPP leader Saleem Mandviwalla earlier said the PTI was trying to avoid decision of prohibited funding case. “Imran Khan himself used to praise the CEC and now [he] has been trying to threaten him. What has happened that has shattered the confidence of Mr Khan in the CEC. Though we have apprehensions, we will stand by the ECP,” he added.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2022

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