Senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday called out the coalition government for trying to push the party “against the wall”, saying that imposing a ban on the party and Imran Khan was beyond the PML-N’s control.
The ex-minister’s statement comes after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled that the PTI received millions of dollars from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals. The commission also sought an explanation as to why the prohibited funds the party received should not be forfeited.
While the PTI has continued to deny any wrongdoing, the government termed the verdict to be a chargesheet against the former ruling party and vowed to implement it in accordance with the law.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Wednesday, Chaudhry said Imran had a huge public following. No one should think of “sidelining him from mainstream politics,” he said.
He claimed the government was “running away” from elections as it feared defeat at the hands of the PTI.
He went on to say that the party would soon demand the government seek a vote of confidence from parliament. “We are deliberating upon the date for it,” he added.
During his press conference, the former minister accused the government of running a campaign against overseas Pakistanis aiming to “label them as non-Pakistanis” just because they support the PTI.
He said overseas Pakistanis were outraged by the ECP’s verdict and were now sending more donations than ever.
The ex-minister pointed out that Article 15 of the Elections Act outlined the process for dissolving a political party. However, he added that the ECP had no authority to take such a step.
He regretted that the ECP was being used as a “tool” by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
He also lamented the fact that the ECP did not seek an explanation from the PTI about the individuals funding the party and declared them to be “non-Pakistanis and foreigners” without conducting a fact-check.
“One of the people included was Romita Shetty, an American. She shares a joint bank account with her husband, Nasir Hussain. But her donation has been declared as prohibited by the ECP,” Chaudhry said, adding that there were more examples of such discrepancies.
Fawad said PTI was also being censured over its connection to businessman Arif Naqvi. “I must clarify that Naqvi had no charges against him in 2011-12 when he had donated funds to the party,” he said.
The PTI leader demanded the electoral watchdog also audit the accounts of the PPP, the PML-N and the JUI-F.
Fawad accuses ECP of issuing two PTI funding verdicts
Meanwhile, in a tweet Tuesday night, Chaudhry accused the commission of issuing two verdicts. “In the decision of the election commission which was given to the media, there is no mention of the reference being sent to the federal government,” he had claimed.
“But in the decision which was uploaded on the website later, three lines were added, this is a clear violation of the code of conduct.”
Separately, at the press conference today, the PTI leader claimed that the election commission changed its verdict at PML-N’s behest. “At first, the initial verdict was announced. Later, it [the commission] added two lines in it and uploaded the judgement on its website.”
This, he claimed, was a violation of the code of conduct.
ECP rubbishes ‘propaganda’
Later in the day, the ECP responded to Fawad’s allegations. In a statement, the ECP said such claims were “misleading and a part of propaganda”.
“Those who are trying to find a flaw in a verdict being released after eight years is in fact surprising,” the ECP said in a statement.
Without naming the PTI, the electoral body dismissed the claims, saying “this propaganda has nothing to do with reality”.
“The commission has given a single decision which is signed page by page and the same has been released on the official website,” the ECP added.
Additional reporting by Fahad Chaudhry