Pakistan’s premier demands opposition parties also face proceedings as long-pending case against his PTI gains momentum
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called for an “open trial” in the long-pending foreign funding case against the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, adding that he “challenged” opposition parties to likewise submit to proceedings to prove they had not collected any “illegal” foreign funds.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leaders must also sit” before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s scrutiny committee, he said, adding that he wanted to see the proceedings broadcast live for the public’s benefit. Talking to journalists during a daylong trip to South Waziristan, he said all sources of funding for Pakistan’s political parties should be made public.
“I challenge that PTI is the only political party that has been involved in political fundraising,” he claimed, emphasizing that it had complete records of all its donors, including the names of 40,000 people who had supported it. He also regretted that funds collected from overseas Pakistanis—whose remittances he said were playing a major role for the country’s economy—were being made controversial by terming them “foreign funds.”
To a question on the opposition parties’ rally outside the ECP office in Islamabad, Khan reiterated his stance that the nation had already “rejected” their narrative. “Their [Pakistan Democratic Movement] is just a drama to get an NRO through blackmailing tactics,” he reiterated.
The foreign funding case was filed by Akbar S. Babar, a founding member of the PTI, in November 2014. Pending for over six years, the case has gained momentum in the past month, as opposition parties have started protesting against the delays and demanding the case be resolved. The PTI has sought to distance itself from the case by claiming that its funds were gathered by “agents” who were working at odds with the instructions of Imran Khan, and as such, the party was not liable for their sources. The opposition has branded this an “excuse” to try to obfuscate the issue.
Separately, to a question on the country’s economy, Khan told journalists in South Waziristan that the situation was “improving.” He said that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the country’s economic indicators were showing positive trends, including enhanced exports, positive current account in 17 years and a boom in Large Scale Manufacturing sector and textile industry.
To another question, the prime minister reiterated that the erstwhile tribal areas had been neglected in the past and required special attention to alleviate poverty and generate employment. He said the government would grant special packages to the region to ensure its development.