ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Election Commission (EC) on Tuesday ruled that former Prime Minister Imran KhanPakistan’s Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from Pakistan was a “willing recipient” of $2,121,500 in banned funding from abroad and asked the party in a show cause message why the money should not be seized. It also cited the party leadership for managing undeclared bank accounts.
A three-member EC bank led by committee chief Raja Sikandar Sultan declared in a unanimous verdict that PTI was taking donations from foreign companies and individuals from the US, UK, Australia, UAE and other countries in violation of the law.
Coalition leaders in office welcomed the verdict and said the law will take its course. PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said there was no illegality and most of the funds came from overseas Pakistanis. He promised to challenge the order in the Supreme Court.
The EC noted that Khan’s PTI “knowingly and intentionally” received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, managed by Arif Naqvi, a business magnate of Pakistani descent. The party also received donations from UAE-based Bristol Engineering Services, E-Planet Trustees, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, UK-based SS Marketing Manchester, PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975.
The EC said the party received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company, as well as from Australia-based Dunpec Limited, and Pakistani companies Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports in violation of the law.
“PTI Pakistan received donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975. Collecting donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies is prohibited and against Pakistani law,” it said.
The election watchdog said PTI was found to be a beneficiary of donations from Romita Shettyan American businesswoman of Indian descent.
The commission found PTI guilty of concealing 13 bank accounts linked to the party. The party had declared only eight bills to the committee. “Data obtained from the State Bank of Pakistan shows that all 13 accounts divested by PTI were opened and managed by senior PTI management and leadership at [a] central and provincial level”, according to the EC.
The committee noted that the party failed to list three more accounts managed by its senior leadership. It held the PTI leadership responsible for the “serious mistake” of not disclosing and concealing 16 bank accounts in violation of Article 17(3) of the constitution. “Each political party must account for the source of its funds in accordance with the law,” says Article 17(3).
The EC found documents submitted by PTI chief Imran Khan over five years (2008-2013) to be “gross inaccuracy based on financial statements obtained by this committee from SBP and other material available in the records”.
It said the case falls within the scope of the Political Parties Order 2002 (PPO) violation. “Therefore, the Committee instructs the defendant to send a notice as to why the above-mentioned prohibited funds should not be confiscated. The office has also been ordered to take other legal action in light of this commission’s order, including forwarding the matter to the federal government.”
PTI founder Akbar Sher Babar, who had argued with Khan and petitioned the EC in 2014, said his arguments had been accepted and asked the former prime minister to resign from the party. babar said he would continue the matter to its logical conclusion. “Foreign finance case PTI guilty as charged,” he said in a tweet.
Khan was elected Prime Minister of the country in 2018 and was removed from office last April via a vote of no confidence in parliament. He says he was removed in a US-sponsored conspiracy and that he has gathered his supporters for new elections, due in 2023.