KARACHI / SWABI: Just a day after the Federal Inv­es­tigation Agency (FIA) con­stituted a panel to supervise teams in its respective zones investigation into the matter pertaining to the Election Commission of Pak­­istan (ECP) order in Pak­istan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) prohibited funding case, the agency’s provincial chapters summoned senior leaders of the party for next week to join the inquiry.

The FIA had on Friday constituted a five-member team to supervise inquiry teams of the agency’s respe­ctive zones probing into the prohibited funding case. Hea­ded by its Director Muh­a­m­mad Athar Waheed, the monitoring team would be responsible for coordination with and guiding the respective inquiry teams in each zone, according to a notification issued by the agency’s economic crimes wing director. Its members would be FIA’s Additional Director Khalid Anees, Deputy Director Khawaja Hammad, Chaudhry Ijaz Ahmed and Assistant Director Ijaz Ahmed Sheikh.

The team was notified just a few days after a three-member ECP bench in a unanimous verdict ruled that the PTI received prohibited funding from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals. As per the notification, the probe is being conducted under Section 6 of the Political Parties Order 2002.

In Karachi, the agency summoned former Sindh governor Imran Ismail and MPA Dr Seema Zia. Sources said the FIA has also sought details from two private banks where the party was operating four accounts, which came under the radar after the ECP verdict. All four accounts, they said, were opened and operated in Karachi.

Ex-Sindh governor Ismail, MPA Seema issued notices in Karachi; Punjab Minister Mahmoodur Rasheed in Lahore; ex-speaker Qaiser in Peshawar

“Imran Ismail has been asked to appear [before the FIA] on Aug 15 and record his statement,” said the source privy to the development. “Before him, Dr Zia will appear to record her statement on Aug 12. In the meantime, two banks have been asked to furnish details of the four accounts they were operating for the PTI — three in Habib Bank Limited and one in BankIslami Pakistan Limited,” the source added.

Following directives from the top, FIA Karachi Director Abdullah Sheikh constituted a five-member team led by its Deputy Director Rabia Qureshi and comprising Assistant Director Abdul Rauf Sheikh, inspectors Aftab Wattoo and Sabin Ghori and Sub-Inspector Rahat Ali Khan.

When asked about the total number of accounts the party was operating in Karachi, the source said details of only four had emerged during the initial probe.

“The FIA team in Karachi is only coordinating with the headquarters in Islamabad, which is actually supervising the probe into this case,” said an FIA official explaining the agency’s Karachi chapter role.

Meanwhile, the FIA Lahore chapter has summoned the PTI’s Punjab Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed for Aug 11 in his party’s prohibited funding case.

“A call-up notice has been issued to senior PTI leader Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed for Aug 11 to join the FIA’s investigation into the party’s prohibited funding case at its Lahore office,” according to an official. Mr Rashid was on Saturday sworn in as the provincial local government and community development minister.

Moreover, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser also received the FIA Peshawar chapter’s call-up notice at his native Swabi residence on Saturday evening, summoning him for Aug 11 at the KP office of the agency.

The notice, a copy of which is available with Dawn, stated the inquiry was being conducted by the FIA Peshawar in light of the ECP order into the alleged illegalities committed in the opening/operating of two bank accounts — Bank Islami (KASB) and Habib Bank Limited, Peshawar. Mr Qaiser has been asked to appear in person and answer questions pertaining to the mentioned accounts “along with any additional supplementary question put to you with [truthfulness] and honesty”.

Earlier, the former speaker told the media that the election commission was a constitutional body whose reputation had been tarnished by its incumbent chairman. “The chairman’s controversial and partisan role is under a tight watch of the PTI.”

He stressed he would not be intimidated by such high-handed tactics and vowed to continue to work for the people with complete determination. He called the PTI the only political party that ran its affairs according to the laws of the land, adding those who had looted public money and stashed it abroad were making the country bankrupt.

Qaiser questioned why the ECP failed to take action against other political parties, saying the action should be across the board.

Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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