BEIJING, CHINA – FEBRUARY 04: Imran Khan, Prime Minister of Pakistan arrives at the stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics at the Beijing National Stadium on February 04, 2022 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
In a setback to ousted prime minister Imran Khan, Pakistan’s election commission on Tuesday issued a show cause notice to his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party for receiving prohibited funding from 34 foreign nationals and 351 foreign-based companies.
A three-member bench of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi announced the unanimous verdict, in a case that was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) founding member Akbar S. Babar and had been pending since November 2014.
The electoral watchdog ruled that PTI received funds from 34 foreign nationals and business tycoon Arif Naqvi.
The ECP also said PTI received donations from Romita Shetty, a US-based businesswoman of Indian origin, which was against the rules, according to the Dawn newspaper.
Interestingly, the ECP’s verdict comes after The Financial Times newspaper recently published a story titled ‘The strange case of the cricket match that helped fund Khan’s political rise.
The report states that fees were paid to Wootton Cricket Limited, which, despite the name, was in fact a Cayman Islands incorporated company owned by Naqvi, the founder of Dubai-based Abraaj Group.
In the written verdict, the ECP noted that PTI “knowingly and willfully” received USD 2,121,500 funding from Wootton Cricket Limited, according to the Dawn newspaper.
?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,? the ECP said. It went on to add that the party also received donations through PTI Canada Corporation and PTI UK Public Limited Company.
The ECP declared the party had kept 13 accounts secret, which it said was another violation of the Pakistan Constitution.
It also issued the show cause notice to Khan’s party to explain why these funds should not be confiscated.
?This Commission is constrained to hold that Mr Imran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated under the Pakistani Statutes. The Chairman PTI has or successive five years (2008-2009 to 2012-2013) under review and examination has submitted Form-1 and signed a Certificate which is not consistent with [the] accounting information before us which has been gathered and complied on the basis of information obtained from Banks through [the] State Bank of Pakistan,” the judgement stated.
Babar, the petitioner in the case, said it was a step towards uprooting PTI’s “fascism.”
There was no immediate response from PTI chief Khan on ECP’s verdict.
PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry said that most of the money for the party came from overseas Pakistanis, and ECP’s verdict proves it was not a case of “foreign funding.”
?I don’t understand why PML-N, JUI and PPP have declared overseas Pakistanis as the enemy. We consider overseas Pakistanis to be the backbone of Pakistan’s economy and we will continue to rely on them for our funding, he asserted.
The PTI and the ECP have been at loggerheads for some time now. Khan has been accusing Raja, the Chief Election Commissioner, of being biased.
On Monday, Khan announced his party workers would protest outside the ECP office in Islamabad on Thursday to press for Raja’s resignation.