Taking money from foreign companies wasn't illegal in 2012: Imran counters ECP verdict in funding case
PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday hit back at the Election Commission of Pakistan's verdict in the PTI prohibited funding case saying that taking money from foreign companies wasn't illegal in 2012.
In an address to supporters via video link, he said that the law which prohibited taking funds from foreign companies was introduced in 2017," he said. "But our case is from 2012."
His statement comes days after ECP declared PTI to be a "foreign-funded party". It had ruled that PTI had "wilfully" and "knowingly" received prohibited funding — which include a number of foreign donors.
In its order, the commission also said that it was "constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani statutes".
Responding to all the allegations against him and his party today, the PTI chief said that his party had received money in 2012 from two fundraising dinners that Arif Naqvi had organised.
Referring to the Financial Times' report, he clarified that the businessman was charged with fraud six years later in 2018 and questioned how he could have known about that in 2012.
Imran added that there was nothing wrong with the PTI receiving money from a foreign company of Naqvi in 2012 since it was still allowed at the time, adding that it only became illegal later in 2017.
Furthermore, he claimed that PTI was the only party that raised money through political fundraising, unlike other parties (PML-N and PPP) which he said were run by "mafias".
"Across the world, political parties raise money by hosting dinners," he said, explaining that the donations during those events were later given to the party.
"Ask these two parties why don't they do this. I will tell you [...] because they know no one will give them money.
"And this is the reason why I kept demanding that all the parties should be investigated together. The nation should know how they raise money," he said, alleging that ECP's verdict proved that it couldn't see PTI succeeding.
"It is saying that that money raised by overseas Pakistanis is wrong. They are calling it foreign funding," Imran stated. "Tell me, if this money is foreign funding, then what about the remittances and the money that is sent for earthquakes and floods?
"The ECP is almost saying that money sent by overseas Pakistanis will be regarded as foreign funding," he said.
He also refuted the claims that he had signed an affidavit, claiming that it was a certificate.
Moreover, the PTI leader said that the ECP had played a "big role" in controlling elections in the country.
"The nation was turned into a slave through the commission. How? People come to vote and elect their candidates but ECP didn't let that happen," he alleged, adding that this was also why the electoral body had rejected the electronic voting machines (EVMs).
"I will tell you why they didn't let this happen. They knew that the secret hands that controlled the results would no longer be able to do so," Imran said.
Unfortunately, he regretted, "those forces are still controlling the country".
Scores of PTI supporters gathered at Islamabad's F-9 park on Thursday evening to protest against the ECP Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja on Imran's call.
Decked in red and green scarves and bands, the crowd chanted slogans against the electoral body and demanded the resignation of all its officials.
PTI lawmakers protest outside ECP
Earlier today, PTI lawmakers made their way through barbed wires and barricades to reach outside the Election Commission of Pakistan’s office in Islamabad and registered their protest against the electoral body.
The protesters included PTI leaders Faisal Javed Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Pervez Khattak, Asad Umar, Azam Swati, Shibli Faraz, and Kanwal Shauzab among others. They chanted "imported hukoomat namanzoor" slogans while marching towards the ECP office.
The demonstrators were also carrying placards inscribed with demands of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja's resignation. Some of the banners read "Biased chief election commissioner unacceptable" and "ECP abettors of PML-N, PPP".
They were, however, stopped at the headquarters' gate by a contingent of police and Rangers personnel.
Separately, PTI lawmakers also gathered outside ECP offices in Karachi and Lahore.
PTI submits memorandum against CEC
After reaching the ECP office, PTI lawmakers submitted a memorandum against Raja for playing an "unconstitutional, undemocratic and biased" role as the CEC.
The document, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said that PTI was the largest political party in Pakistan according to the votes it had received in the general and by-elections.
"Under the leadership of CEC Raja, the ECP has adopted a biased attitude against the PTI for the past eight years, which is evident from its decisions."
It said that the ECP's August 2 verdict in PTI's prohibited funding case was against the law and aimed at taking "revenge" from the party. "From the investigation to its verdict, the case is surrounded by severe doubts," the memorandum stated, adding that Imran Khan had also, on multiple occasions, expressed his reservations with the ECP and the CEC.
It alleged that the verdict was influenced by the CEC's meeting with the coalition parties last week. And the PTI, it continued, through no-confidence resolutions in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab assemblies had expressed its loss of trust in the electoral body.
"Hence, for a better future, it is important that all the existing officials of the ECP submit their resignations," the PTI demanded, adding that an unbiased commission could only end the political instability in the country.
After submitting the memorandum, PTI lawmakers dispersed from the site, ending the protest.
Security beefed up in Red Zone
This morning, in anticipation of the protest, security was beefed up and shipping containers were placed in the Red Zone.
The PTI, which has demanded Raja's resignation, is scheduled to stage a protest outside the electoral watchdog's office today (August 4). The PTI's protest was called in anticipation of the prohibited funding verdict.
The government, however, has declared it won't allow protesters to enter the Red Zone.
On the other hand, in an interview last night, party chief Imran Khan said only a parliamentary delegation of the PTI would go to the ECP office and convey that the party had lost confidence in the electoral body.
But authorities were taking no chances, as containers were reportedly set up blocking entry into the high-security Red Zone area, and citizens were directed to use Margalla Road in order to enter.
In a statement, Islamabad SSP (Operations) said that no one would be allowed to enter Red Zone. He said that 2,000 officials from Islamabad police, Frontier Corps and Rangers had been deployed.
Ahead of the protest, PTI chief Imran Khan said the CEC and the ECP, in connivance with the government, "conspired to try a technical knockout against the PTI after the PML-N got routed in the Punjab by-elections".
"Now, they are cowering in fear about the same happening to the entire Pakistan Democratic Movement in general elections," he said.
"Today, I am calling all our people to come out in [a] peaceful public protest against the CEC and ECP in F-9 park at 6pm. I will be addressing the gathering between 7-7:30pm," he added.
PTI denied permission to stage protest at Nadra Chowk
Imran's statement comes after Islamabad authorities denied the PTI's request to stage a protest against the ECP at the nearby Nadra Chowk and suggested F-9 park and H-9 ground as alternate venues.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed yesterday that the government had received information that the PTI was planning to create an "anarchic situation" outside the ECP, warning of stern action in case of any violence or attempt to cross the "red line".
Sanaullah also said that the demonstrators were free to protest at the nearby F-9 park or Parade Ground, where he assured them they would be fully facilitated.
Similarly, Islamabad District Magistrate (DM) Irfan Nawaz Memon, issued a reply to the party's application for staging a protest at Nadra Chowk and seeking provision of security.
The letter, dated August 3, stated that Section 144 had been imposed on all kinds of public gatherings in the federal capital including in and around Red Zone on July 23.
"The instant application has been examined at length in the context of orders passed by the Honourable Supreme Court and the Honourable Islamabad High Court. Moreover, it is imperative to mention here that various government offices /buildings, including Election Commission and embassies, are situated in and around Red Zone.
"In view of the above, the application for holding [a] public gathering at Nadra Chowk, Islamabad is hereby 'regretted'," the DM said.
However, the Islamabad administration proposed F-9 parks and H-9 ground as alternative venues, highlighting the terms and conditions for the public gathering.
"You are, therefore, requested to kindly intimate one of the two venues mentioned [...] where you are willing to hold [the] public gathering so that security arrangements can be made accordingly," the DM said.