Tuesday May 28, 2024

Foreign funding case verdict: Opposition-ruling alliance row intensifies

The two sides issue harsh statements against each other

By News Desk & Our Correspondent
August 04, 2022
PM Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, PTI chairman Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. — APP/ Twitter/@PTIofficial
PM Shahbaz Sharif, PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, PTI chairman Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi. — APP/ Twitter/@PTIofficial  

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) verdict in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) prohibited foreign funding case has intensified the political fight between the ruling and opposition alliances in the Centre.

The two sides issued harsh statements against each other; the government alliance leaders demanded sending a reference against the PTI chairman, while Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders threatened the ruling alliance with a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly.

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) supremo advised the coalition government to file a reference against the PTI in the Supreme Court within 48 hours. He was speaking through video-link to a meeting of the coalition government partners at the Prime Minister’s House with PM Shehbaz Sharif in the chair.

Party officials said Nawaz stressed “providing no concession to those who create instability on the agenda of anti-national elements”, adding that Imran Khan was directly involved in the rollback of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and “selling of Kashmir”.

Qaumi Watan Party chief Aftab Sherpao said the coalition government has to deliver now and control inflation. The meeting also decided that all coalition parties would hold rallies against the PTI across the country.

As per the plan, MQM will lead rallies in Karachi and PPP in Hyderabad and Sukkur, JUIF in Peshawar, PkMAP and BNP-Mengal in Quetta, and PMLN in Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Addressing a press conference after a meeting of the ruling coalition leaders, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Maulana Fazlur Rehman said all the member parties of the ruling coalition were of the view that immediate legal proceedings should be initiated against the PTI leaders in the light of the ECP verdict. The federal cabinet, in its meeting on Thursday, would approve the decisions taken by the meeting held on Wednesday, he said.

Maulana Fazl said that now it was the question of integrity of the country and all institutions should now stand for the purpose. The PDM chief, while observing that the ECP verdict was a charge-sheet against the PTI leadership, said Dr Arif Alvi and Imran Khan should immediately resign as president of Pakistan and PTI chairman, respectively. “Not only Imran Khan but all the PTI leaders are criminals and foreign funding was received with their consent,” he said. The Maulana said Imran Khan and his party would also be held accountable for the foreign funding it received after 2013.

The Maulana said Imran Khan, under an international agenda, received foreign funding to destroy Pakistan as a state. “It has been proved from verdict on foreign funding that he is a foreign puppet,” the PDM chief said, adding that those who gave funds to the PTI belonged to India, Israel, the UK, the US, Australia, Denmark and other countries.

He said that the ECP verdict also proved that the PTI leaders were involved in criminal activities and the party’s central and provincial leadership should be taken to task. Meanwhile, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) would be approached by his party against the chief election commissioner (CEC).

While talking to a private news channel on Wednesday, he said the ECP had levelled foolish allegations against the PTI. He said he had never seen such a silly report that had been issued by the ECP against his party. He said the commission compiled two reports, one of those declaring the PTI a foreign-funded party was included at the behest of ‘someone’.

He censured the ECP saying the commission was involved in a conspiracy with the ‘imported government’ against the PTI as the institution was deliberately delaying the funding reports of the ruling PMLN and PPP.

Khan said the PPP and PMLN were receiving funds from wealthy persons and both political parties had done wrongdoings in the name of the 18th Amendment. He said that it was not illegal to collect funds from overseas Pakistanis by any law. The law barring collection of funds from organisations was introduced in 2017, whereas, different companies disbursed funds to his political party in 2012. He said his party did not break any law at all.

Khan also responded to the controversy related to his affidavit and said, “Affidavit was signed for declaring the ownership of the assets and another for confirming the party accounts. Shaukat Khanum has a budget of Rs18 billion. Am I an accountant to see the whole budget? I was given a briefing about the accounts which I will definitely confirm.”

He announced that the PTI would take part in the elections with full strength and polls should be conducted on all seats. “I want to raise a question if the organisation of by-elections will bring any improvement to the country.”

Khan criticised that those persons who should face the penalties were imposed as rulers of the country. He warned of increasing risks to national security due to the current rulers.

He announced, “We will approach the Supreme Judicial Council against the CEC. Many people had criticised the selection of the election commissioner as he is a PMLN loyalist.” Khan said that two provincial assemblies had passed resolutions against the current CEC. He disclosed that neutrals had given the guarantee of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sultan Sikandar that he would perform his duties impartially.

Imran Khan urged the use of Electronic Voting Machines in the general elections and said that EVMs would eliminate all kinds of vote rigging. “We are going to organise a peaceful protest against the chief election commissioner tomorrow [Thursday].” He reiterated his demand for free and fair elections to end crisis in the country. “We are ready for talks if the date for fresh elections is announced. Shehbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari are reluctant to announce the fresh elections due to fear of facing defeat,” he added.

Regarding the reports of his inclusion into the Exit Control List, the PTI chief said he was happy over the inclusion of his name in the ECL. He said he had no plans to go abroad and the government was free to add his name to the list.

Separately, PTI Senior Vice-President Chaudhry Fawad Hussain Wednesday said they were all set to send the coalition government packing through a vote of no-confidence. Addressing a news conference here, he claimed that either the government had lost the confidence of some allies or “we have gained the confidence of some of them”.

He said the PTI had completed preparations and a decision on the date would be made and then a no-trust motion would be filed, asking the government to get a vote of confidence. He said the regime would soon be on its knees.

He said the Election Commission announced the prohibited funding case in a hurry and the verdict was delivered immediately after talks with the Election Commission on pending cases of the PDM.

Fawad claimed that the Election Commission had given two decisions in a hurry; a decision was handed over to the media, which did not mention the reference being sent to the government in the last line, and it was not because there was no power to send references under the law under which action was being taken. In the second decision, one-and-a-half line was added to it and put on its website.

He said meetings were never held in the chambers with the parties concerning the pending cases, but the chief election commissioner met the government members in the chamber, discussed the things in detail and results were decided after which Sultan Sikandar Raja and his team gave the verdict.

The PTI leader alleged the loopholes in this decision were as high as the mountains. He said they would not only appeal the Election Commission verdict but also ask for disciplinary action as the decision was beyond the Constitution and law.

He said the PMLN, which had taken 84 seats, was saying that they would ban the party which had taken 155 seats. “You should talk according to your status and height; it is not for you to ban Imran Khan and the Tehreek-e-Insaf and you are running away from the elections,” Fawad said.

Fawad reiterated to challenge the ECP decision in the court and put all the facts before them and hoped that the decision would be reversed. He said if any party should be banned, it was Fazlur Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam because he took funding from abroad while audits of the PPP and Muslim League Nawaz funds had been pending since 2018.