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Tuesday August 09, 2022

Talk of disqualification: What wrong did I commit, asks Imran

Donations collected from overseas Pakistanis were considered foreign funding, says former prime minister

By Mumtaz Alvi & News Report
August 05, 2022
PTI Chairman Imran Khan is addressing the party supporters protesting against CEC on August 4, 2022. — Screengrab via Twitter/PTI
PTI Chairman Imran Khan is addressing the party supporters protesting against CEC on August 4, 2022. — Screengrab via Twitter/PTI

ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan Thursday wondered what wrong he had committed that people had started talking about his disqualification.

Addressing the party workers at the F-9 Park through a live video link, Imran said no law prohibited the political parties from collecting money from overseas Pakistanis.

He said according to the verdict of the Election Commission, donations collected from overseas Pakistanis were considered foreign funding. “The PTI collected money from companies in 2012 and the law prohibiting this action was formulated in 2017; therefore, no law has been violated,” he said, adding that this was not a case of foreign funding, reports Geo.

Imran had first asked the supporters to stage a “peaceful protest” against CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja outside the ECP headquarters; however, after warnings from the coalition government barring them from entering the Red Zone, the venue was changed to F-9 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 was a constitutional right of everybody to protest, and “we [PTI] have always tried to protest with the Constitution and the law.”

Regarding the PTI’s rule, Khan said 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 government was removed from power through a controversy.

Khan said 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.

Shedding light on the PTI’s efforts to introduce the 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 were selling their conscience; however, the Election Commission “chose to remain silent”.

Regarding the verdict of the foreign funding case, he questioned how a political party run without money could. “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 they had sufficient money; however, the 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 the basis of money but the ECP didn’t hear their funding cases.” He said the PTI had 40,000 donors.

Regarding the Financial Times report, Khan said the ECP verdict had mentioned that the funds were received from Wootton Cricket Ltd, whose owner was 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 the PTI’s funding.

The PTI chairman said his party had received the money in 2012 from two fundraising dinners that Naqvi had organised. “The ECP is saying that the 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?”

Meanwhile, a group of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislators Thursday made its way to the Election Commission of Pakistan through the barbed wires and barricades and registered a protest against the electoral body and chief election commissioner. The legislators, including senators and the MNAs, chanted slogans against the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, asking him to step down for being allegedly biased. They also were seen carrying placards, inscribed with anti-government and anti-CEC slogans.

On reaching in front of the commission secretariat, they were stopped by the law-enforcement personnel. A PTI delegation, led by Secretary General Asad Umar, handed a memorandum to the Election Commission officials after which the PTI protesters dispersed calmly. The delegation included Asad Umar, Pervez Khattak, Shibli Faraz, Faisal Javed, Fawad Chaudhry, Azam Swati and Kanwal Shauzab and Seemee Ezdi.

Speaking to the reporters, Asad Umar said that for the sake of supremacy of the Constitution and the law, the Election Commission should go home and it should be reconstituted to give a chance to political stability to return to the country. He claimed that it was quite obvious that a conspiracy was being hatched and it was seen in the prohibited funding case judgment, as all the allegations were false. “Unfortunately, the Election Commission, instead of functioning as a state institution is working like a political rival to PTI,” he alleged.

The memorandum says the Election Commission in general and Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja in particular had been adopting a persistently vindictive policy towards the PTI, being the country’s largest political party, having governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and running the government affairs in Balochistan, Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan with its allies.

The memorandum said the Election Commission under the incumbent chief election commissioner had been giving biased verdicts and there was a long of list of such verdicts. It was pointed out that on August 2, the judgment in the prohibited funding case was in total transgression to the Constitution and the law and full of vendetta against their party.

The memorandum said the verdict was handed down in total disregard to the Commission proceedings and facts, and was replete with serious apprehensions and doubts, as reflected in the earlier judgments.

The PTI has already expressed its no-confidence in the chief election commissioner and the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies have adopted resolutions against him calling him biased and asked him to step down.

Through the memorandum, the lawmakers demanded that the incumbent Election Commission members should tender their resignations without any delay and the commission be formed anew to help end political instability in the country.

In a tweet, PTI Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said the entire Islamabad was presenting the scene of a besieged city. “The so-called fascist government wants to ban the opposition by using the Election Commission and seeks to clip powers of the Supreme Court. Getting rid of this government is like getting freedom of Pakistan. After freeing Punjab, masses are ready now to liberate Islamabad,” he wrote on his twitter account. Earlier, the Islamabad administration rejected the PTI local chapter’s application for holding of a protest at the NADRA Chowk, as it was located in the Red Zone.  

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