Friday May 20, 2022

Maryam demands JIT probe into PTI's accounts

"Not only did the PTI lie in its disclosures to the ECP, it tried to sabotage their investigation," Maryam says

By Web Desk
January 06, 2022

PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addressing a press conference on January 6, 2022. — Geo News
PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz addressing a press conference on January 6, 2022. — Geo News

LAHORE: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Thursday demanded the formation of a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe all of PTI's undeclared bank accounts.

"Just like a JIT (joint investigation team) was formed against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, a similar JIT must be formed to probe PTI," she said, during a press conference in response to a report by a scrutiny committee of the Election Commission of Pakistan probing foreign funds received by the party.

"All accounts owned by the PTI must be publicly declared," she said.

She said that since all the allegations of financial wrongdoing have been "proven" against the PTI, the people of Pakistan are waiting for accountability.

Maryam alleged that Prime Minister Imran Khan tried to "sabotage" the investigation into PTI's funding through foreign donors.

"Not only did the PTI lie in its disclosures to the ECP, it tried to sabotage their investigation," she said.

Maryam said "never before in its history", had the country ever witnessed such "irrefutable proof" against any party or any leader.

"You tell your party to highlight the 'brand' Imran Khan. Your brand is that you are incompetent, unqualified, corrupt, a liar, conspiratorial, a looter, [and that you are behind] mind-boggling inflation, economic devastation,  unemployment and guilty of illegal foreign funding," she said.

"This brand now lies exposed before all," she said, adding that now he will "no longer get a chance to hide".

Discussing figures reported by the State Bank of Pakistan to the ECP, she said the party has 26 bank accounts, of which 18 were active, while only four were declared," Maryam said.

The PML-N leader said she came across the premier's tweet which said he welcomes the report and that ministers even said they have been "exonerated", and asked what gives them such an impression.

"You kept on running away [from the probe] for seven years. You used force, coercion and rigging and prevented the probe from advancing. And then when you knew that it has become unavoidable, that the people will ask ECP questions, you tried to prevent the release of the report by pressuring them," she said.

Maryam said that subsequently the ECP's jurisdiction was challenged, following which "delaying tactics" were employed for seven years.

She demanded to know why the party did not surrender itself for examination if it claims to not have engaged in any wrongful practices.

"But the thing is, it is those who give themselves up for an investigation who know and have no fear that they have committed theft. Not everyone is like Nawaz Sharif, who has always puffed up his chest and welcomed any probe," she added.

The PML-N leader said that the PTI had to be "dragged into the probe", and now "every fibre of their being has been found to be seeped in controversy".

Listing down the countries that the party had received funding from, she said donations had been sent from the US, Middle East, Australia, Canada, and England.

She went on to say that the PTI established two companies, one in Texas and one in California between 2010 and 2013, and that "[PM] Imran Khan himself was chairman of both companies".

"Some companies were also formed in Australia and Canada," she said.

"Since Imran Khan was the chairman, whatever happened was in his knowledge, was done at his behest and his say so," Maryam said.

Quoting the report, she said not only had PTI "lied", it has been found guilty of "deliberate concealment" and "misdeclaration".

She alleged that the party had "submitted false certificates" to the ECP, and that everything was done on the directives of "senior PTI leadership and PM Imran Khan".

Maryam  alleged that the party facilitated the illegal transfer of funds through "four employees and some office staff". "Authorisation for this was given by Imran Khan and Arif Alvi," she further alleged.

The PML-N leader said the prime minister has yet to explain "how much money he got from which country and which company, where it was spent, and what the sources of the funds were".

She said Imran Khan will have to answer for how he was, on the one hand, "gathering illegal funding" and on the other, "standing atop a container in 2014 to illegally, unconstitutionally remove an elected prime minister".

"You may have used that money here and there, but you also used it against an elected government," she added.

Maryam said Pakistani law dictates that no political party can receive funds from any foreign company. If they do so, they are declared "proscribed" she said.

Maryam further alleged that not only did the PTI government resort to the misdeclaration of foreign funding, but it also patronised and rewarded sugar, electricity, flour, and other mafias which led to inflation in the country.

The PML-N vice-president said that the PTI "used the religion card to conceal Imran Khan's wrongdoing".

Opposition demands PM's resignation, hopes justice will be served

In the light of the allegations levelled against the premier, Maryam said that it was high time he stepped down from his office.

"The PML-N, as well as the joint Opposition, demand Imran Khan tender his resignation for lying, receiving illegal funding, and the concealment of funding," she said.

Lauding the ECP on releasing the report, Maryam said that it is now up to the commission to ensure that justice is served and "Imran Khan is punished for his corruption".

"The way innocent people were imprisoned [in false cases] the ECP should ensure Imran Khan and his top leaders are also punished," she said.

Maryam said that she trusts the judiciary of the country and said she hopes that justice will be served.

'Party will decide Nawaz's return'

Answering a question regarding PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif's return to Pakistan, Maryam said that the party will decide it, adding that he only left the country on medical grounds and there were "no deals" signed.

"Nawaz Sharif did not leave the country as a result of any deal. He solely went to London for treatment because his life was in danger," she said, adding that Nawaz's condition had deteriorated because of the mistreatment he was subjected to while in the National Accountability Bureau's (NAB) custody.

'I demand an apology for my phone being tapped'

Regarding the leaked recording of a phone call Maryam had with Pervez Rasheed, she demanded an apology for her phone being tapped without her knowledge.

"As a citizen of Pakistan, it was a violation of my rights to tap my personal phone call. Therefore, I am not going to comment on this issue unless I receive an apology."

The report

The report lays bare the contradictions in details provided by the PTI to the ECP and actual figures.

According to data provided to the committee by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), PTI has 26 bank accounts.

From 2008 to 2013, PTI disclosed funds worth Rs1.33 billion to the ECP, whereas a report by the SBP shows the actual amount to be Rs1.64bn, the report said.

PTI failed to disclose details of three banks in documentation provided to the ECP, it added.

It stated that around 1,414 companies in Pakistan, 47 foreign companies and 119 potential companies provided funds to PTI.

PTI received $2.3448 million in funding from the US, but the scrutiny committee couldn’t obtain access to the party's US bank accounts, the report said.

Of those to have contributed these funds were 4,755 Pakistanis, 41 non-Pakistanis and 230 foreign companies.

Besides the US, the PTI obtained funds from Dubai, UK, Europe, Denmark, Japan, Canada, Australia and several other countries.

A private bank provided details to SBP regarding $2.2 million funds being received by the PTI from Dubai, however, the scrutiny committee couldn’t get further details.

It was also unable to obtain information related to the funds received from the UK and Europe.

Due to a lack of information, the committee's report said that it cannot comment on the source of the funding from any of the countries.

The firm that audited the PTI's accounts based their reports on the same information for five years, the report noted, adding that the PTI changed the firm in the last year but the report's contents remained the same.

The report said that the committee arrived at the conclusion that there is a contradiction in the audit reports and the PTI's bank statements.

The committee sent the PTI a questionnaire on the funding received from the US and other countries but obtained no clear response, it added.

'Inaccurate' report

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, addressing a post-cabinet press conference on Tuesday, had termed the report "inaccurate".

The federal minister said the ECP should hold a public comparison of the parties' foreign funding and demanded similar scrutiny of PPP and PM;-N's bank accounts.

Chaudhry also claimed the committee had counted transactions worth Rs150 million and Rs160 million twice.

The information minister said that the scrutiny committee's report had shown that the party had 26 bank accounts, while eight of them were inactive.

Chaudhry said eight accounts, out of the remaining 18, were functional.

"He said that 10 of the accounts in question did not actually belong to the PTI, six were subsidiary accounts, while the party has distanced itself from the remaining four," according to Dawn.

The federal minister said "there is no question of foreign funding", as he claimed that the prime minister and PTI had always provided records of their transactions.

"The PTI has complete details of all the 40,000 donors, while no other party had such record of donations," he added.