Monday April 22, 2024

SKMCH story was based on ECP’s foreign funding case, donors replies

By Fakhar Durrani
March 01, 2022
SKMCH story was based on ECP’s foreign funding case, donors replies

ISLAMABAD: In his address to the nation on Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the Jang group had published a news story saying Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital’s donations were siphoned off to PTI and the Group did not include the hospital’s version. The Prime Minister also said that the SKMCH would sue the media group in the United Kingdom.

The News story titled “Foreign funding case: Hospital donors unaware their donations siphoned off to PTI” published on January 27, 2022 was based on the report released by the Election Commission of Pakistan’s scrutiny committee. The story was based on the PTI’s foreign funding case and the content of the news article were purely based on facts and donors’ written replies.

The story was based on a few of the donors’ points of view who were selected/identified from the list of PTI donors that the party submitted with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Some of the donors had confirmed in their written replies that their donations were meant for Shaukat Khanum Hospital only and not for political purposes.

It is important to note that the ECP scrutiny committee released a report containing a list of 1414 donors who the party claimed were PTI donors. The reporter contacted the donors from the list that PTI had submitted with ECP to verify the fact if these donors had donated to the party's political campaign or to Shaukat Khanum Hospital. Some of those who responded confirmed that they donated to Shaukat Khanum Hospital and not to PTI. On the basis of these replies The News/Jang published the story.

A substantial number of donors in the list that PTI submitted with the ECP donated the amount ranging from $50 to $300 to PTI. The reporter did not contact these donors because their donation amount was not significant. There were few donors who donated $500 or $1000. For the purpose of sample verification, 80 out of those donors were contacted who donated a significant amount (i.e. $500 or $1000 or above) rather than those whose donation amount was less than that.

The reporter sent a written questionnaire to these donors. Each donor contacted by the reporter was specifically asked about the total amount donated and the date of donation, ii) whether the donation was given to SKMCH or PTI and iii) if they are members of PTI at any level. Of the total 80 donors, 29 responded to the report in writing which are available with the reporter and would be shared with the court if the matter goes to litigation.

The Prime Minister in his address to the nation specifically took the name of Geo/Jang group. However, it needs to be clarified that there was no ill intention vis-à-vis Shaukat Khanum Hospital fund's misuse. The News International reported only what the donors replied. In order to ensure impartiality of The News International, the editor of the newspaper published his note which clearly said, “Shaukat Khanum Hospital is one of the country's finest NGOs, doing ground breaking work that has benefitted hundreds of thousands and should continue to be supported. This fact-based story in no way attempts to take credit away from that institution.” In fact The News International through its editor’s note encouraged the donors for donating more for this noble cause. In addition to the editor’s note, on the very next date (i.e. 28.01.2022), The News International published SKMCH detailed clarification and the facts about its services to the cancer patients in the country.

The reporter stands by his story and claims to have all the written replies of the donors on the basis of which the story was filed. The evidence would be provided to the court in case the hospital management decides to take that course. Additionally, the reporter suggests the Shaukat Khanum Hospital to approach ‘The Joint Commission International (JCI)’ which is an independent body that has accredited the Shaukat Khanum Hospital. The JCI verifies hospital accounts and other details on an annual basis. Both the hospital and the reporter could unanimously approach the JCI to verify the facts and replies of the donors by holding an inquiry into the allegations of the donors.