• Party claims FIA issued notices to leaders who were not office-bearers at time of funding
• Minister says implementation of ECP ruling in progress

ISLAMABAD: As investigations into prohibited funds received by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) inch forward, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Sunday questioned the issuance of notices to four PTI leaders, including former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.

At a press conference, the former information minister said he could not comprehend why notices were issued to the party leaders even though they did not hold any office in 2011-12 when the party received these funds.

The Federal Investigation Age­ncy (FIA) has summoned former Sindh governor Imran Ismail and MPA Dr Seema Zia in Karachi; Mah­moodur Rasheed, Punjab’s local government minister, in Lahore; and Asad Qaiser in Peshawar.

“I do not understand in what capacity FIA is issuing notices to our leaders. These people were not public office-holders in 2011-12. However, we are cooperating with the FIA,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said PTI had provided details of its accounts to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

He said the party would approach the courts for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) audit to be finalised within 15 days. He claimed that PML-N had received Rs10 million but had not declared the funds.

Accusing the PML-N of money laundering, he alleged that the party had spent Rs1.3 billion on media campaigns but had not mentioned any source.

He further claimed that ex-president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Asif Ali Zardari headed one part of the party while Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari headed another. According to the PTI leader, the explanation given by the PPP leaders was that one party funded another; however, under the ECP rules, no political party could fund another party. He asked why the ECP was “protecting the PPP and the PML-N”.

Fawad also claimed that certain “journalists and Baloch insurgents” were harping on about PTI chief Imran Khan’s disqualification.

“Who has the courage to disqualify Imran? You are not announcing elections because you fear he will win a two-thirds majority,” he said, adding that a campaign was underway against Imran Khan.

“The government is holding by-election on nine seats because it is fed up with its allies. They want to gather seats gradually to secure a majority. This is their political move,” he went to allege.

Probe into May 25 cases

During the press conference, the former minister said that PTI — which rules Punjab along with PML-Q — would also launch an investigation into the cases registered against its workers and leaders in the province following the long march on May 25. He said that investigation team could summon Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Ataullah Tarar, who had served as home minister in Hamza Shehbaz’s cabinet before its dismissal as a result of a Supreme Court verdict, and expected that they will cooperate during the investigation just like the PTI has decided to cooperate with the FIA in the funding case.

It may be noted here that the PML-N government in Punjab had stopped the May 25 march of the PTI with iron hand and had taken into custody scores of PTI leaders in a late-night crackdown. The provincial government then led by Hamza Shehbaz had also registered cases against the PTI leaders.

ECP verdict

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said implementation on the prohibited funding case ruling was in progress, reported APP. “The decision in the funding case has been given [by the ECP] which is being implemented as per law,” she said in a statement while reacting to Fawad Chaudhry’s comments on social media. She said the PTI had been declared a “foreign aided” party under the Political Parties Order 2002. Imran Khan had submitted a false affidavit with ECP five times as per the decision, she added.

The PTI sought 51 adjournments, changed nine lawyers, and filed 11 petitions in courts, the minister observed. “The lies, fraud and drama of a foreign agent and foreign aided party must end,” she added.

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2022

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