A group of MNAs associated with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) — a multi-party alliance with representation of ruling PML-N — on Thursday filed a reference with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking the disqualification of former prime minister Imran Khan from holding public office for allegedly receiving prohibited funding from a number of foreign donors.
The reference was submitted by MNA Barrister Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha to Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, carrying signatures of lawmakers Agha Hassan Baloch, Salahudeen Ayubi, Ali Gohar Khan, Syed Rafiullah Agha and Saad Waseem Sheikh.
In its verdict on Tuesday, the election watchdog ruled that PTI had “wilfully” and “knowingly” received prohibited funding from a number of foreign donors. In its order, the commission had also said that it was “constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani statutes”.
The ruling coalition began demanding disqualification of and strict legal action against the PTI chief soon after the ECP announced its verdict in the case.
On Tuesday, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman pressed upon the government to "make an example" out of Imran Khan.
“A reference should be filed against Imran Khan as he is no more Sadiq and Amin (truthful and honest),” the PDM leader had said at a press conference after a meeting of the multi-party alliance at the PM House on Wednesday to decide the line of action against Imran.
The reference filed today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, demanded the ECP to disqualify Imran under Sections 2 and 3 of Article 63 of the Constitution, read with Article 62(1)(f). It also carried documentary evidence to corroborate their claims against the ex-PM.
Article 62(1)(f) says: "A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless [...] he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law."
Article 63(2) says: "If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the Speaker or, as the case may be, the Chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission."
While, Article 63(3) reads: "The Election Commission shall decide the question within ninety days from its receipt or deemed to have been received and if it is of the opinion that the member has become disqualified, he shall cease to be a member and his seat shall become vacant."
It is pertinent to mention here that the PTI had on Wednesday moved a reference before the Supreme Judicial Council against CEC Raja on Wednesday.
The prohibited funding case
The prohibited funding case — previously referred to as the foreign funding case — was filed by PTI founding member Akbar S. Babar and has been pending since November 14, 2014.
Babar, who is no longer associated with PTI, had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.
The PTI has, however, denied any wrongdoing and maintains the funding is not from prohibited sources.
In March 2018, a scrutiny committee was constituted to examine the PTI's financing.
The committee submitted its report on January 4, 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 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 further called into question the certificate, signed by PTI chairperson 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.