ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan Thursday said that his party collected money from companies in 2012 while the law prohibiting this action was formulated in 2017; therefore, no law has been violated.
"This was not a case of foreign funding, he said, addressing his party workers present at Islamabad's F9 park through a live video.
He explained the meaning of foreign funding, stating that according to the verdict of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), donations collected from overseas Pakistanis are considered foreign funding.
Khan said that no law prohibits political parties from collecting money from overseas Pakistanis.
The PTI chairman had called a “peaceful protest” outside the ECP headquarters today in the federal capital following the body's verdict related to the party's prohibited funding case.
The party chairman had first asked the supporters to stage a "peaceful protest” against CEC Raja outside the ECP headquarters; however, after warnings from the coalition government barring them from entering the Red Zone, the venue was changed to F9 park.
“Islamabad has been made a fortress, why are they doing this?” he said, adding that the federal capital was closed at once.
The former prime minister said that it is a constitutional right of everybody to protest, and “we [PTI] has always tried to protest with the constitution and the law.”
Regarding PTI’s rule, Khan said that when the party came into power, it was given a terrible economy and then the COVID-19 pandemic happened.
“Our government managed both difficult situations successfully,” he said, lamenting that despite the efforts, the PTI’s government was removed from power through a controversy.
Khan went on to say that they [coalition parties] thought that the PTI was finished because of their “conspiracy” in the wake of the no-confidence motion.
“However, they were mistaken because people took to the streets on May 25. I will never forget the massive turnout of PTI supporters,” he said, recalling that the coalition government made all efforts to stop them by inducing fear in them.
Recalling the July-17 by-polls held in 20 constituencies of Punjab, Khan said that they [coalition parties] assumed that they will rig the elections easily; however, despite all efforts to manipulate the results, they lost.
“They always use state institutions to rig elections and election commission is one way to control people,” he said, adding that they [coalition parties] are scared people will turn against them.
Shedding light on PTI’s efforts to introduce Election Voting Machine (EVM), the PTI chairman said: “Our party has been trying for last two-and-a-half years to introduce EVMs as it can eliminate 130 out of 163 methods of rigging elections.
“EVMs were stopped by two political parties and the election commission also supported them,” he added.
The PTI chairman said people are selling their conscience; however, the election commission “choose to remain silent”.
Regarding the verdict of the foreign funding case, he questioned how could a political party run without money.
“Several people with a strong background formed political parties; however, they could not function without proper funding,” he maintained.
Terming the two parties “mafias”, he said that they have sufficient money; however, PTI faced difficulties in collecting funds and remained a small party for several years.
“I used to collect money for Shaukat Khanum Hospital and the same people said that they wanted to contribute to the party funds as well,” Khan said, adding that why don’t these two political parties fundraise?
“Both political parties are doing politics on basis of money; however, we have 40,000 donors,” he said, complaining that the ECP didn’t hear the funding cases of these two parties.
Regarding the Financial Times report, Khan said that the ECP verdict mentioned that the funds were received from Wootton Cricket Ltd, whose owner is Arif Naqvi.
“We took money in 2012 and charges were levelled against us in 2018,” he said, taking a jibe at those who registered a case against PTI’s funding.
The PTI chairman said that his party had received the money in 2012 from two fundraising dinners that Naqvi had organised.
“The ECP is saying that that money raised by overseas Pakistanis is illegal. They are calling it foreign funding. Tell me, if this money is foreign funding, then what about the remittances and the money that is sent for earthquakes and floods?
“The ECP is almost saying that money sent by overseas Pakistanis will be regarded as foreign funding,” he said.
PTI lawmakers converged outside the ECP headquarters in Islamabad earlier today, answering the call of Khan — who had urged people to protest against the election body as well as CEC — in defiance of district administration orders barring any protest inside the Red Zone.
Placard-carrying protesters climbed over barbed wire that was installed to prevent any entry into the area and had a brief run-in with the police, who successfully dispersed them.
Speaking outside the ECP office, the parliamentarians demanded the resignation of the CEC.
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