Monday June 27, 2022

Foreign funding case: PTI again blames official based in US

Akbar S Babar called on Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to order an investigation with reference to the accounts of PTI’s four Central Office employees

May 12, 2022
PTI again blames an official based in the US. Photo: The News/File
PTI again blames an official based in the US. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Wednesday yet again shifted the blame for receiving illegal funds in the United States on Dr Nasrullah, the treasurer of the US-based PTI company, as the party continued its final arguments in the foreign funding case before the Election Commission bench. It is still to speak on the findings of the Scrutiny Committee report on prohibited funding.

The petitioner, Akbar S Babar, has called on Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to order an investigation with reference to the accounts of PTI’s four Central Office employees.

The PTI counsel, Anwar Mansoor Khan, explained that the two US-based companies registered in the US for fund collection and other purposes, including influencing the US policy, were registered with FARA as per the US law. Likewise, he noted the PTI policy of collecting donations was according to the Political Parties Order 2002 and this was made clear to its agents in the US and the treasurer of the PTI US company.

He continued the PTI had fired one of its agents Dr Nasrullah for allowing funding and collecting donations from prohibited sources. However, when asked by an ECP member if the contract between the PTI and its treasurer of the PTI US company was terminated for not following PTI policy on fund raising, his reply was ‘yes’. The counsel, then, read out the engagement letter between the Special Auditor PTI Ahsan and Ahsan and PTI, claiming that the task assigned to the Special Auditor was not audit but an assignment to conduct the review of PTI donations received from abroad.

He claimed the ECP Scrutiny Committee had refused to accept the Special Audit Report (SAR) as it remained unsigned and he kept on referring to a letter that led to the Special Audit but did not specify who had written the letter. However, the relevant record reveals that the Special Audit was conducted in 2013-14 at the behest of the petitioner and PTI Founding Member Akbar S. Babar whose emails with the auditor document the 12 financial areas of concern regarding illegal funding of PTI. The record is available with this correspondent.

The record also clearly shows that the SAR with the same title is still available on PTI website and any document downloaded from an official website is admissible evidence under the law. The PTI counsel claimed that Form-I regarding details of foreign funding of PTI was submitted before the ECP but the Scrutiny Committee ignored it. However, on contrast, the case record available with this correspondent shows that on April 01, 2015, the ECP in its written order had stated that 'the declarations made by PTI from year to year were requisitioned from the office, which were examined in the light of Form-I prepared under Rule 4: Column No.6 of the form pertains to the sources of funds with details; the declarations so submitted do not contain source of foreign funds with details.’

This was the fourth day of the final PTI arguments limited to the legal aspects of the case. PTI has yet to argue against the findings of the Scrutiny Committee Report that reveals foreign and prohibited funding from foreign nationals, including Indian nationals, foreign companies, and concealment of accounts from the ECP. The prohibited/foreign funding identified by the Scrutiny Committee was concealed from the ECP.

Later, talking to the media outside the ECP, Akbar S Babar said when the Scrutiny Committee Report was released on January 04, 2022 that identified scores of concealed PTI accounts, the PTI disowned 11 of its accounts revealed through the State Bank of Pakistan and shifted the blame on those operating the 11 accounts.

He pointed out that PTI discredited its top leadership that included Asad Qaiser, Shah Farman, Imran Ismail, Mian Mahmudur Rashid, Samar Ali Khan, Najeeb Khan and even Imran Khan’s close friend late Ahsan Rashid for operating illegal PTI accounts without the knowledge of the PTI Central Finance Department, whereas, documented evidence is available that the PTI Central Finance Board, including the PTI Central Finance Secretary Sardar Azhar Tariq Khan, was operating the PTI accounts that it has disowned, ostensibly now to save its skin.

Babar demanded that investigations of accounts of four PTI Central Office employees in whose private accounts crores of rupees were illegally received and the money withdrawn by top PTI leadership by making the employees sign cash checks must be expedited. He said he had written two letters to PML–N’s then Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and one to Ahsan Iqbal to investigate the illegal activity of drawing funds through Hundi and other illegal channels but there was no response. He demanded the incumbent Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to take notice of the delay and conclude investigations as soon as possible as all the PTI Central Office employees are based in Islamabad and their accounts can be scrutinised in a matter of days if not hours.

Babar said Imran Khan blames the Indians for running a campaign to malign the Pakistan Army whereas he himself is responsible for defaming vital national institutions and bringing them to disrepute. In this regard, he pointed to Imran Khan’s statements as PM when he lauded the Indian foreign policy that was hailed across India.