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PTI to Challenge ECP Verdict on Prohibited Funding Case

Party leader reiterates demand for electoral body to audit accounts of PPP, PMLN, JUIF to provide ‘comparison’ for public

by Newsweek Pakistan

Screengrab of Chaudhry Fawad Hussain’s press conference

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday reiterated its intent to challenge the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s verdict on the prohibited funding case, with former information minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain saying it was “unreasonable” to accept a ruling from a chief election commissioner the party had filed a reference against.

Addressing a press conference, Fawad demanded the electoral body—which the PTI continues to regard as biased—now complete the audit of accounts of other political parties to provide “comparisons” for the public. Accusing the ruling coalition of trying to “corner” the PTI, he said banning the party or disqualifying Imran Khan was not within its control. A day earlier, after the ECP ruled that the PTI had received funds from “prohibited” sources, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had told a press conference that the government could now submit a declaration to the Supreme Court that the PTI was a foreign-aided party. If the apex court upholds this declaration, he said, “the party would stand dissolved.”

Emphasizing that ousted prime minister Khan had a large public following, Fawad claimed that no one could think of “sidelining him from mainstream politics.” Reiterating claims that the incumbent government was avoiding elections because it feared defeat to the PTI, he said the party—which claims to have resigned from the National Assembly—would soon demand the government seek a fresh vote of confidence from Parliament. “We are deliberating upon the date for it,” he said.

The PTI leader also reiterated accusations against the incumbent government of running a “campaign” against overseas Pakistanis, alleging they had labeled them as “non-Pakistanis” because they supported the PTI. He claimed overseas Pakistanis had been “outraged” by the ECP’s verdict and were now sending even more donations to the PTI. He alleged the ECP had not sought an explanation from the PTI about the individuals funding the party and declared them to be “non-Pakistanis and foreigners” without conducting a fact-check.

“One of the people included was Romita Shetty [an Indian-American]. She shares a joint bank account with her husband, [Pakistani-American] Nasir Hussain. But her donation has been declared as prohibited by the ECP,” he said, adding that there were more examples of such discrepancies.

On Tuesday, nearly 8 years after the case was filed by petitioner Akbar S. Babar, the ECP ruled that the PTI received millions of dollars from 351 foreign companies and 34 foreign nationals. Serving a show-cause notice to the party, it directed to explain why the prohibited funds it received should not be confiscated. According to the ruling, the PTI had received funds from 34 foreigners, including nationals and companies from the U.S., Australia and the U.A.E. “13 unidentified accounts also surfaced during the probe in the PTI funding case,” it said, adding that PTI Chairman Imran Khan had submitted a false F1 form to the ECP.

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