PESHAWAR: Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser on Wednesday moved the Peshawar High Court against the start of an inquiry by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into two bank accounts of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, managed by him from 2008 to 2013 as its then provincial president.

Mr Qaiser filed a petition requesting the court to set aside a notice issued by a FIA official to appear before him in connection with the bank accounts inquiry. He wanted that inquiry to be declared illegal and based on mala fide.

The petitioner also sought interim relief from the court requesting it to suspend action on the inquiry and stop the respondents, including the relevant FIA officials, from issuing ‘adverse’ orders against him until the disposal of the case.

The FIA deputy director (commercial banking circle), Peshawar, had ordered that inquiry in the wake of the Aug 2 pronouncement of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the PTI had received funds from prohibited sources.

Insists PTI’s two bank accounts earlier managed by him never received funds from abroad

A notice was issued by the inquiry officer, sub-inspector Irfanullah, to Mr Qaiser asking him to appearbefore him in that inquiry on Aug 11 at 2pm.

Respondents in the petition filed through Barrister Gohar Khan include the federal government through federal interior secretary, FIA through its director general, FIA deputy director (CBC), Peshawar, and inquiry officer Irfanullah.

The petitioner contended that the FIA deputy director had initiated the impugned inquiry illegally and with ulterior motives, while the notice issued to him on Aug 5 was without lawful authority.

He said he was elected the president of the PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2008 and held that office until 2013.

The petitioner said both Article 17(3) of the Constitution and Article 13 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, declared that an enlisted political party should disclose the source of its funds but there was no mention of the details of bank accounts.

He added that only those bank accounts were covered in which an enlisted political party had received funds whether prohibited or not.

Mr Qaiser contended that the PTI had disclosed all bank accounts, which received funds, and they totalled eight.

The petitioner said all political parties had separate wings, including provincial offices or organisations, and that they sometimes opened and maintained bank accounts in their respective areas for own matters.

He added that those bank accounts had nothing to do with ‘sources of funding’ of the enlisted political party i.e. PTI and not PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and that for the same reason, the ECP had never called any regional wing, including PTI KP, to appear before it or explain any aspect of the sources of funding or accounts.

Mr Qaiser said there were 11 such bank accounts, including two of the PTI’s KP chapter opened in the Habib Bank Limited and KASB/Bank Islami that were never used to receive foreign funding.

The petitioner said that even beyond the scope of the findings of the ECP, the FIA deputy director (CBC) alleged “that in light of paras 41 and 43 of the ECP order dated 2.8.2022, inquiry is being conducted to probe illegalities committed in opening/ operating of bank accounts.” The notice was issued by the inquiry officer to appear on Aug 11.

He contended that the ECP had not even held that any law had been violated in opening of those accounts or that any authority other than the ECP including the FIA should take action or assume jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Mr Qaiser told reporters on the premises of the high court that the court was likely to take up his plea for preliminary hearing today (Thursday).

He said the two bank accounts were opened for the convenience of the party’s local organisation to pay salaries to employees and manage office expenses and had no connection with foreign funding.

The former NA speaker said those accounts were currently dormant and only Rs2.1 million transactions had taken place through them in six years. He claimed that Imran Khan would be the future prime minister.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2022

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