ISLAMABAD: The PTI took prohibited funding from foreign companies and hid 13 accounts out of the total 34 from where it received money, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, who led a three-member bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan, announced on Tuesday.
“This is the unanimous decision of the bench,” he said while announcing the decision and the ECP issued a show cause notice to the PTI.
The country’s top electoral authority announce the judgement in the PTI prohibited funding case as the security outside the federal capital office has been made tight. The ECP, which reserved the verdict on June 21, was expected to announce the decision at 10am, however, it got a little late.
Details of the decision
- The commission was satisfied that funding was taken from various companies
- PTI took funding from the American company, LLC
- PTI took funding from 34 companies but owned only eight
- PTI hid 13 accounts
- PTI took funding from Arif Naqvi of Abraaj Group, IPI, and USI
- Imran Khan submitted the wrong declaration of funds from 2008 to 2013
“The party knowingly and willfully received funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, operated by business tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a willing recipient of prohibited money of $2,121,500,” said the copy of the verdict, a copy of which is available with Aaj News.
The commission said the party “knowingly and willfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based company), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands private registered company), SS Marketing Manchester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws”.
It added that the party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company. “From both the companies, the amounts received into its accounts of PTI Pakistan are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws.”
The party also received donations from Australia-based company Dunpec Limited, and Pakistani companies Anwar Brothers, Zain Cotton and Young Sports which were again in violation of the law.
“PTI Pakistan, through fundraising campaigns by PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975, was a recipient of donations from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies. Collection of donations and contributions from foreign nationals and companies are hit by prohibition and in violation of Pakistani laws,” it said.
The electoral watchdog also said that the PTI had been found to be a beneficiary of donations made by Romita Shetty, a US-based businesswoman of Indian origin that was in violation of the law, from Singapore.
The commission also said that it was “constrained to hold that Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani statutes.”
The PTI chairman has for five successive years submitted Form-I and signed a certificate which is not consistent with the accounting information before us, it said.
“Imran Khan, for the five years under review, has filed submissions that were grossly inaccurate and wrong. Even during the course of scrutiny and hearing by this commission, the PTI continued to conceal and withhold complete and full disclosure of [the] source of its funds,” it said.
ECP violated SC orders: Habib
PTI leader Farrukh Habib alleged that the ECP violated the orders of SC by just issuing the decision on the PTI case, demanding that the commission should have given an altogether decision on PPP and the PML-N.
“Our stance has been declared that it was not a foreign funding case,” Habib, who was flanked by Fawad Chaudhry and Maleeka Bokhari, told reporters outside the ECP office.
PTI leaders announced they would challenge the decision in court and claimed that the coalition government’s tall claims have been fizzled out.
Maleeka cried foul over the apparent biased attitude of the ECP towards the PTI. “Why the country’s largest party was treated like this,” she said and reiterated that the party’s stance over the nature of the case was declared.
“PDM’s all wishes have ended,” she said and alleged that propaganda was made against them.
“No party has the right to hide its funds from the public,” Fawad said. “The 16 accounts are subsidiary.”
Habib claimed that there was no misdeclaration and the party would challenge it.
“Whoever has to illegal funding does not do through banks,” Fawad said and alleged that banned Taliban leader Osama bin Laden had funded Nawaz Sharif’s party.
- One of PTI’s founding members Akbar S Babar filed a prohibited funding case on November 14, 2014
- Case has been pending in ECP for over seven years
- For six times, PTI filed pleas in ECP, contending the case was inadmissible or outside the ECP domain
- 21 is the number of times the ECP asked the PTI to submit documents and financial record
- PTI changed nine lawyers
- The ECP in March 2018 formed a scrutiny committee to probe into prohibited funding case
- The scrutiny committee had 95 meetings, out of which 24 times PTI sought time
- Four petitions were filed against inclusion in the committee
- The committee 20 times issued orders for PTI to submit documents concerned
- In November 2021, the committee submitted the funds’ audit report to the ECP
- Later, the ECP after hearing the cases reserved its decision on June 21
‘It is proved PTI got prohibited funding’
It was clear under the rule that the party head had the declaration over the document, analyst Shaukat Paracha told Aaj News. “The decision proved that the PTI took prohibited funding from foreign companies.”
Former attorney general Anwar Mansoor Khan claimed that the decision was “biased”, adding that some of the things on the case were beneficial for the PTI and some not
“It is in the law, Political Parties Order 2002, that foreign funding does not come under the domain of the ECP as it was a commission, not a court,” he told Aaj News.
This is a big decision: Babar
Akbar S Babar, who won the prohibited funding case, was of the view that it was a big decision for the country.
“This will create political pressure on political pressure and lead to the end of kingship,” he told reporters outside the ECP office. “
He was of the view that doctrine of the necessity in the country’s politics has impacted the economy. “It is an eye opener for the PTI and I think it is the time for regime change in the Imran Khan-led party.”
Babar demanded that the PTI should be given back to its ideological workers. “What kind of prime minister [Imran Khan] he was that he could not bring any proof that I and the PML-N had any links. Imran had all agencies with him.”
This is a report: Malik
Law expert Taimor Malik described it as a report, not a decision, adding that the commission had given more time to the PTI.
“If it’s not in prohibited or foreign funding then the ECP can seize funds,” he said.
“Imran Khan should have patience and not make decisions before the ECP judgement,” analyst Anwaar Hashmi told Aaj News. “Imran, who had led the campaign for transparency, should not make efforts to pressurise institutions.”
The court’s decision was not given on the basis of the economic situation, he said, adding that the political parties’ reaction affected the economic situation. Pakistan was seeking an early inflow of funds from the International Monetary Fund to boost the economy.
For me, Imran Khan is out: Babar
Akbar S Babar, who has filed the prohibited funds case, described the latest development in the case as a “miracle” and said the day was important in the country’s “history”. Babar is among the founding members of the party, which is based on justice.
“For me, [PTI Chairman] Imran Khan is out,” he told reporters outside the ECP office. “Now we will have to see whether he would be caught at the slip or get bowled out,” he said while using cricket metaphors to describe his intentions.
He vowed to “fight till the last ball” if the case moved to the Supreme Court and mobilised the people. He would speak in detail after the case.
The reaction to the ECP decision might further impact the financial situation, Saleem Sheikh, Lahore bureau chief, said as he highlighted the rupee’s depreciation against the dollar last month.
Security beefed up ahead of hearing
“A three-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi will preside over the hearing scheduled for August 2,” said an update on the ECP website on Monday.
The election commission issued the cause list for the judgment of the prohibited funding case on Monday. Additional troops of police and FC personnel have been deployed outside the ECP office. Roads near the office have been closed by placing barbed wires.
The case was filed in the ECP by PTI’s founding member Akbar S Babar which had been pending for over seven years. Babar had alleged serious financial irregularities in the party’s funding from Pakistan and abroad.
PTI and Arif Naqvi’s apparent support for PTI
The decision to announce the judgment comes after a Financial Times report revealed that Pakistani financial bigwig Arif Naqvi financed Imran Khan’s PTI through exhibition matches at his country estate in the Oxfordshire village of England.
The London-based daily’s report said that the event was the type of charity fundraiser and the PTI was the ultimate benefactor. It added that fees were paid to Wootton Cricket Ltd, a company owned by Naqvi, that was used to financially support PTI.
The ruling coalition last week had urged the ECP to announce the decision on the case at the earliest in the wake of the English daily report, prompting ire from the PTI. The Imran-led party alleged that they were pressurising the commission and the information in the report was “already known to the ECP”.
PTI’s Imran announces ‘peaceful protest’ outside ECP on August 4
PTI Chairman Imran Khan, who has several times demanded of the CEC to step down, on Monday called upon its party workers to stage a peaceful protest outside the ECP office on August 4 (Thursday) in Islamabad.
“Unfortunately, this CEC tried its best to sabotage the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the elections,” he said while addressing the National Council in Islamabad. “The ECP’s job is to implement electoral process given by the government, however, he gave put all effort to block it.”
He alleged that the ECP took such measures as the two major parties – apparently the PPP and the PML-N – also opposed it. “Because it is their system to rig elections,” he said and reiterated England’s example.
“Around 130 ways of rigging out of 163 were eliminated with the use of EVMs,” he said while quoting the report of an NGO on free and fair elections.
He alleged that a corrupt system blocked the use of EVMs, adding that his party also wanted to follow meritocracy.