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January 27, 2021

Foreign funding issue: PTI moves ECP against JUI-F

Top Story

January 27, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The foreign funding issue Tuesday took a new turn as the ruling PTI filed a petition in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The PTI MNA Farrukh Habib, who had filed the petition, during media talk outside the Election Commission, said the petition was filed on the basis of Maulana’s confession regarding foreign funding in various talk shows by a senior leader of his party. The ECP, he noted, was urged for investigation of foreign funding against the JUI-F and added that Hafiz Hussain Ahmed had repeatedly admitted in talk shows on the media that Maulana Fazlur Rehman received funds from Iraq and Libya and that this should be investigated.

He said the properties of Maulana Fazlur Rehman in Dera Ismail Khan and Chak Shehzad would also have been purchased with the same funds. Farrukh Habib said Maulana Fazlur Rehman would not be allowed to flee, he would have to answer.

The PTI lawmaker contended that all the parties, which had the foundation of foreign funding, have united and the foundation of foreign funding was laid by Nawaz Sharif as he took $10 million from Osama bin Laden to end the rule of Benazir Bhutto, who had mentioned this in her autobiography. He said Imran Khan had challenged him to open the hearing of the foreign funding case in the scrutiny committee, now they should come forward and accept this challenge.

To a question, he said, “We have provided all the records to the scrutiny committee, Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Maryam Nawaz should also give their receipts.” He asked Fazlur Rehman to state under which agenda he received foreign funding and whether there was any foreign funding for the long march.

Meanwhile, Akbar S Babar, the petitioner of foreign funding case against the PTI has filed an application before the ECP Scrutiny Committee. The committee scrutinising the PTI accounts for the last the three years, met again Tuesday. On the last date of hearing, the committee set a new precedent when it walked out of its own meeting after questions were raised over the credibility and transparency of the scrutiny process by the petitioner and PTI founding member Akbar S Babar.

The case took an interesting turn when the petitioner filed a written application before the Scrutiny Committee challenging the decision of the committee for keeping the PTI financial record including the 23 PTI bank statements secret from the petitioner in the light of the latest offer by Prime Minister Imran Khan to end secrecy and open the trial to the media.

In his application, the petitioner referred to the order of the committee on December 2, 2019 in which the committee refused to share the PTI records with the counsel for the complainant (Akbar S. Babar), who was told that copies of the documents submitted by the respondent (PTI) cannot be provided at this stage as the respondent seriously opposes it.

He reiterated that provision of copies of all PTI financial documents is a legal right of the complainant under Article 5(4) of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Section 203(5) of the Election Act 2017 besides the order of the ECP on May 30, 2018 and the orders of the IHC on December 4, 2019.

Sources said the petitioner’s lawyer Syed Ahmad Hassan Shah, who his assisted by Badar Iqbal Chaudhry, narrated the facts for the record that led to the walkout of the Scrutiny Committee on the last hearing. He reiterated that as long as the petitioner’s genuine and legal concerns of transparency are not addressed that includes sharing of all PTI financial documents before the committee; they would continue to participate under protest.

A copy of the application demanding sharing of all documents in the light of PM Imran Khan’s latest offer of ending secrecy was given to the PTI. Sources revealed an interesting situation developed when the PTI representatives showed reluctance to even receive a copy of the application. It was agreed that the PTI would respond to the application in the next meeting for the committee to decide on the matter.

The committee meeting was adjourned without any further progress as the PTI had filed an adjournment application due to the absence of the senior PTI lawyer Shah Khawar. Talking to media, Babar said it was the right of the nation to know the truth. He said, “We have filed the application to test PM Imran Khan’s offer of ending secrecy.”