Shah Farman gets FIA questionnaire as part of PTI funding probe

Published August 19, 2022
This combo photo shows Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman (left) and f National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser. — Photo courtesy: APP/Twitter
This combo photo shows Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman (left) and f National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser. — Photo courtesy: APP/Twitter

PESHAWAR: Former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Shah Farman on Thursday appeared before a Federal Investigation Agency team probing a bank account of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, operated by him here.

The FIA team handed him over a form containing 23 questions and asked him to fill and return it by Aug 22.

The questions mostly pertain to an account opened in a branch of the Bank Islami (erstwhile KASB) in Peshawar cantonment area on Jan 23, 2010, with the title of the PTI Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and jointly operated by Mr Farman and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser.

Mr Qaiser skipped the hearing and asked the FIA to withdraw the call-up notice until the Peshawar High Court decided his petition against the FIA’s jurisdiction on the matter.

Qaiser skips hearing, saying notice already challenged in court

A high court bench had stopped the agency on Aug 11 from taking ‘any adverse action’ against him.

The bank account in question was disowned by the PTI before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which later placed it in the category of ‘unknown’ accounts.

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

The call-up notices were issued to Mr Farman and Mr Qaiser by the FIA inquiry officer, sub-inspector Irfanullah, asking them to appear in connection with the inquiry.

Some of the questions put forward to Mr Farman are: “Do you own the bank account in Bank Islami (ex-KASB) Peshawar? What was the purpose of opening the account? Being general secretary of PTI KP, part from the above account did you open any other bank accounts for PTI?; before passing resolution for making the bank account have you sought approval from PTI central secretariat, Islamabad?; whether amount was credited in the above account from central account or otherwise?; As per central finance board policy, have you submitted any annual external audit report to CFB regarding fund collections and disbursement?; have you ever declared the above account in Provincial Election Commissioner, KP or ECP Islamabad?; and, why PTI didn’t declare the said bank account before the ECP.”

The former governor was also asked about his profession before the joining of politics, the source of his income before and after beginning his political career, yearly tax payments, and bank accounts operated by him individually or jointly.

According to the ECP’s order, Rs2.11 million was withdrawn and Rs2.127 million was deposited in the bank account.

After appearance before the FIA, Mr Farman told reporters outside the FIA’s headquarters here that he appeared before the inquiry team as he respected national institutions.

He wondered how corruption would be eliminated if politicians didn’t respect institutions and said he would respond to all FIA questions.

The former governor said the bank account in question was never used to receive foreign funds and that Akbar S Babar, who was complainant on the matter with the ECP, was the first to deposit money in that account.

He added that like the former National Assembly speaker, he, too, could move the high court against the FIA inquiry but preferred to appear before investigators.

QAISER PLEA: Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser, who was also asked to appear before the FIA team in the case at 2pm, did not turn up.

His lawyer sent a letter to the inquiry officer saying the inquiry’s legality has been challenged in the Peshawar High Court as the FIA doesn’t have jurisdiction on it.

The letter was sent by Barrister Gohar Ali Khan asking the inquiry officer to withdraw the call-up notice.

Mr Gohar said in the letter that his client had filed a petition before the PHC against the ‘assumption of jurisdiction’ by the FIA and a division bench of the court had framed six questions for determination including whether the FIA has the jurisdiction to take cognisance of the matter. He added that as a state functionary, the inquiry officer was bound to wait for the outcome of that petition to be heard on Aug 31.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022

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