In its 68-page judgement, the Commission says PTI ‘knowingly and wilfully’ got ‘prohibited funds’ from 34 foreign nationals and 351 international companies including Arif Naqvi’s Wootton Cricket Limited Declares 13 unknown accounts linked to the party n Imran Khan has filed submissions which are grossly inaccurate and wrong n Serves notice onthe former ruling party for concealment of accounts details.

ISLAMABAD    -   The Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP), in a unanimous verdict, yesterday said the PTI re­ceived prohibited funds from 34 foreign nation­als and 351 internation­al companies based out­side the country.

The ECP mentioned in its verdict besides issu­ing a notice to the PTI for concealment of accounts.

The three-member bench of the electoral watchdog body head­ed by ECP chief Sikan­dar Sultan Raja an­nounced the verdict, in a case filed by PTI founding member Ak­bar S. Babar. The case had been pending since November 14, 2014.

In the written verdict, the commission noted that the party “know­ingly and wilfully” re­ceived funding from Wootton Cricket Lim­ited, operated by busi­ness tycoon Arif Naqvi. The party was a “willing recipient” of prohibited money of $2,121,500, the verdict said.

It mentioned that the party “knowingly and wilfully” also received donations from Bristol Engineering Services (a UAE-based compa­ny), E-Planet Trustees (a Cayman Islands pri­vate registered compa­ny), SS Marketing Man­chester (a UK-based private company), PTI USA LLC-6160 and PTI USA LLC-5975 which were “hit by prohibi­tion and in violation of Pakistani laws”.

The 68-page judge­ment says, “The Com­mission directs that a notice may be issued to the respondent party

funds may not be confiscated...The office is also directed to ini­tiate any other action under the law, in light of this order of the Commission,” it added.

The ECP in its judgement de­clared that 13 unknown ac­counts have been found linked to the party. The judgement says, “This Commission is con­strained to hold that Mr Im­ran Khan failed to discharge his obligations as mandated un­der the Pakistani Statutes. The Chairman PTI has or successive five years (2008-2009 to 2012-2013) under review and exam­ination has submitted Form-1 and signed a Certificate which is not consistent with [the] ac­counting information before us which has been gathered and complied on the basis of infor­mation obtained from banks through [the] State Bank of Pa­kistan.” The verdict says, “Mr Imran Khan for the five years under review has filed submis­sions which were grossly inac­curate and wrong. Even during the course of scrutiny and hear­ing by this Commission, PTI continued to conceal and with­hold complete and full disclo­sure of [the] source of its funds.”

In an argument about mean­ing thereby that the PTI is not a foreign-aided political party, it says, “Imran had personally is­sued certificates to the ECP in regards to Article 13 [2] of the PPO to the effect that PTI “does not receive funds from prohibit­ed sources.”

About declaring bank ac­counts, the verdict says the par­ty in violation of the Constitu­tion failed to declare three bank accounts operated by the par­ty’s senior leadership and the concealment of 16 bank ac­counts by the party was a “seri­ous lapse”. Talking to the media, PTI founding member Akbar S Babar, said that this was a battle of truth versus strength. “I have no personal benefit in this case. The nation will get benefitted as Pakistani politics needed a piv­otal change so that political par­ties were tested under the law,” he said, mentioning that in this eight-year journey he was test­ed many times.

He said that the ECP had agreed that the PTI received funding from foreign individu­als and companies and that sev­eral certificates submitted by Imran were “fake”. To a ques­tion, he said blaming the ECP chief with threat was nothing more than fascism. “This ver­dict is a step towards uprooting PTI’s fascism,” he remarked.

It may be noted here that the Supreme Court has already dis­cussed in detail the question of foreign funding in its 2017 judg­ment on a petition filed by Pa­kistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hanif Abbasi, who had sought the disqualifi­cation of Imran Khan.

The SC bench led by the for­mer chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar had re­ferred to the case on December 16, 2017 to the ECP for a probe.

The judgment noted that it is the duty of the ECP to scrutinise accounts of political parties on the touchstone of Article 6(3) of the PPO read in the light of Arti­cle 17(3) of the Constitution.

However, the apex court in its judgment had noted that it is not the case that the PTI was formed or organised at the in­stance of any government or political party of a foreign coun­try or is affiliated to or associat­ed with any government or po­litical party of a foreign country, or receives any aid, financial or otherwise, from any govern­ment or political party of a for­eign country